Life: Cheech, New Zealand

(Sorry, folks. No photos today! I’m at a computer kiosk…)

Greetings from Christchurch, New Zealand, or “Cheech,” as I like to call it. If “Down and Out” were a book, here begins a new chapter. Within five hours of leaving McMurdo Station, Antarctica on Saturday afternoon, I arrived here. It was Saturday night in a big city, and everyone seemed either on holiday or under the age of twenty. With a large student population, Ceech central stays lively until much later than I’ve been used to (bars here don’t make last call until 3 a.m.), and I was feeling overwhelmed–but glad to be back in a place where I didn’t have to wear a parka.

Imagine the contrast. On Saturday morning, we boarded the plane, a C-17, in a 25-below-zero windchill, wearing our required extreme cold weather gear: bulky red parkas and five-pound boots, balaclavas and fleece underlayers. We carried bear-paw mittens and goggles on board.

But today, I wore a tank top and flip-flops and dozed on the grass in the Christchurch Botanical Gardens. It’s still summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and I’m sitting on a terrace right now watching people jog with their dogs through the park across the street. I hear cicadas in the trees, and children laughing. Things are so, so green.

After an easy afternoon, I’m feeling rather revived and ready for some travel in Kiwi territory. Tomorrow afternoon, my dear pal Cece will pick me up here in a rental car. We’re heading to–where else?–the mountains, which happen to be pretty impressive in New Zealand. We think that we may have a free place to stay (bonus); otherwise, we’re happy to camp–and climb.

Upcoming: Literature, Landscape, and Life…on the road.

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