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open mind, empty stomach

travel, food, and fun

Last year I met a wonderful couple from Christchurch while staying in one of my favorite places in the world, Don Khon, 4,000 Islands, Laos. Kev and Jo were great company and invited me to stay at their place if I ever visit New Zealand. I took them up on their offer and ended up spending an amazing week with them and their family.

We met while staying at a $5/night guesthouse, living the backpacker life. Due to their traveling style, I wasn’t expecting much when I visited their house and was just looking forward to seeing them and catching up. Let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised. They have a VERY nice home. I had my own giant bedroom with ensuite and Jo even placed chocolates on the pillows!

Jo shares my passion for food and I ate extremely well for my entire stay. Kev brews his own beer and kept me well hydrated for my time in Christchurch. They are both highly intelligent, funny, extremely well travelled, and very interesting. Every day and every night was filled with great conversation and plenty of laughter.

The timing of my visit couldn’t have been better. Kev had just come home from a teaching gig in the Middle East and they were having a family reunion. This was the first time the entire family got together for 8 years! Their 4 kids were around my age, very different from one another, and all great people.

On February 22, 2011 a 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck near Christchurch and turned much of the city center into rubble. There have been two significant aftershocks and hundreds of smaller ones since. Eighteen months after the initial quake, it looks as if it happened yesterday. In addition to empty lots where buildings once stood, there are blocks and blocks of houses and businesses that are condemned. It will take decades to make the city right again and it will never look as it once did. Despite all of this, life still goes on. Storage containers have been transformed into shops and cafes and downtown has a pretty cool vibe.

On my last day in ChCh, I had an incredible day trip to Arthur’s Pass. That evening I went to a Rocky Horror themed party that was put on by one of Kev’s daughters. The people in attendance were REALLY into the film. It was interesting to say the least and very entertaining.

While I wanted to stay with Kev and Jo permanently, I still have a lot of places to go on this journey. There is feeling at home, then there is feeling at home. Kev, Jo, and the whole family really made me feel welcome and comfortable. It was one of the most pleasant experiences I’ve had anywhere in the world.

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