Thursday, 14 April 2011

The earthquake affects us all

There are newspaper stories everyday of how the earthquake is affecting everyone’s life.  These days some of these stories concern how things can no longer be done in Christchurch and how people have no choice but to leave town to get something done.  Here is another of these stories – and it’s about us!

If you had been following us on Twitter and Facebook yesterday you would have noticed that Jeff took a road trip to Dunedin and you may have been wondering why – here’s the story.

Unfortunately Naomi’s Dad in Japan is poorly and we booked tickets for her to go this Saturday on Monday.  Then we looked at the passport & found we needed a stamp to get back into NZ – other wise Jeff would end up running the motel by himself forever.....
We rang Immigration (omg their 0800 number is amazing, anything between 25-30 calls waiting time and we waited anything up to 40 minutes for the call to be answered.  The last time we used the call back service and they did call back!) and were told that we needed to complete THIS form and post it to the Dunedin office.  So, being obedient servants of the State, we downloaded, printed and filled in the form....oops....tried to fill in form.  Something didn’t make sense so we rang and waited, this time getting Roy (not real name).  We told him what we had been told and he said OMG NO! Don’t use this form and don’t whatever you do, post it!!  If you want to go on Saturday, take it to the Dunedin office in person with a cover letter explaining the situation, posting is impossible.  Wow! So different, thanks Roy!  So, we downloaded the correct form, filled it in and got confused – so back to the 0800 number and another long wait.  This time we got Elizabeth (once again, not her real name) who immediately understood our situation and offered to go through all the paperwork so that we would not have any surprises in Dunedin.  Yes, it took a while but we got it done.  Thank you Elizabeth.
(Cool coastal morning scene)

So this morning I left home at 4.15am, getting to Dunedin at 8.50am.  Asked a local where I was and found the Immigration Office.  Jumped in the elevator and pressed the “3”, nothing. Pressed another button and ended up being on “4” joined by 2 others.  I said I was trying to get to 3 and they said the elevator won’t stop at level 3 till 9.  I started saying “Typical Govt Dept.” But stopped myself and asked, “are you guys Govt employees?” and they said “Yes”.........heheheheeeee

Anyway, I went back down to ground level and waited till 9am, still couldn’t press the  “3”.  Tried again at 9.01 and it worked, I was in!  Explained the situation to the person and they said, come back in 90 mins.

Freedom, so I became a tourist & weirdly walked dangerously close to historical stone buildings and marvelled at a citycape of intact buildings.  This was reinforced upon passing the Knox Church and Carlton Hotel on my return – my god this city is not normal and there is so much to do.  Dunedin leaves us in the dust!   Why is it that after 6 months of shaking 1/2 demolished buildings start to look normal.  Dunedin was so surprisingly beautiful.  I had never looked at Dunedin like that before.  I also learnt that the Salvation Army began their activities in Dunedin in 1883.  Needed a wake me up boost and so went and had a real great cappuccino at The Black Dog Cafe & Bar – goooood!  After that, still had some time and walked into Snip Snip Snip and got my first post quake cut from Amanda!  
(Go the Sallies!)

(Christchurch has got corgis, Dunedin's got ..... this)

(A good cappuccino)

Then it was back to Immigration where Naomi’s passport was done!  (Usually this would take a number of days)  11.30am, after 2 1/2 hours in a truely Dunner Stunner (what the locals use to refer to a brilliantly beautiful day – which it was) I was in for the 5 hour drive home, slightly tiring but I still found time to Four Square and Tweet the trip home.  I’m knackered but Naomi is now ready to go on Saturday. 

It is in these little ways that the earthquake is affecting our lives.  Today was 10 hours driving for what used to be a 40 minute walk, but that’s life.

But I’d like to give a really big shout out to Roy and Elizabeth and everyone else at Immigration NZ for their wonderful handling of the situation.  You guys are really looking after Christchurch and we appreciate it!  (sorry but this excludes the first person that put us so wrong!)
 (Cool clouds on the way home!)

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