First, a very sincere thank you to everyone who reached out to us to make sure that we were OK. We've all been touched by the show of concern from our friends all over the world. So many people called and e-mailed to make sure that we were OK. Luc Miron even called us from Mumbai while traveling on business.
Thankfully, we are in Palmerston North on the North Island, 600km removed from Christchurch, well down on the South Island, so we did not even feel a tremor. I was at work and the kids were at school and it was business as usual for the most part other than the horror and sympathy of a tragedy occurring in a far away place.
The Kiwis of course are particularly affected knowing that their countrymen are suffering through an enormous catastrophe, but I haven't met anyone that's lost a relative or friend in the tragedy.
One of my best friend's from residency, Phil Downer, was visiting Christchurch this week to attend his brother-in-law's wedding with his wife and 3 children. They are all safe, although the pictures that Sasha, Phil's wife, posted on Facebook are truly terrifying. They camped out in their trashed rental house last night but are now with family in the suburbs of Christchurch and will be leaving New Zealand tomorrow.
We visited Christchurch on January 15-18 and it blows my mind to think that the Cathedral cafe where we had breakfast on January 16 is now covered in rubble and the Trinity Church, which had existed as the fabulous dinner-show restaurant called Octagon Live, is no more.
We feel lucky to have seen Christchurch as the magnificent city that it was, although are sad that others will never have a chance to see it as we did.
It feels wrong to post blogs singing the beauty of the places that we have visited while the world's media focus is on the suffering in Christchurch, so I guess I'll give it a break for the time being and resume posting in a few days. If you find that my tone is at odds with your feelings about the events of February 22, please don't take it the wrong way. We visited and experienced the South Island before this catastrophe reared its ugly head and the shattering of Christchurch doesn't deflect from the beauty and warmth of New Zealand's geography and people.