12 Jan 2012
If I couldn’t live in Canberra, I think Christchurch would be the place to hang my heart. A beautiful city: peaceful, elegant, comfortable. Some of the older buildings are gems of architecture, and there is nothing quite like a punt ride down the Avon through the Botanic Gardens. The city square beside the cathedral is the bustling hub of the city, full of statues and buskers, children playing, parents strolling, lovers hand in hand, and tourists just soaking it all in.
Which is why the earthquakes of the past year or so have devastated me almost as much as the city. Some of the glorious buildings are crumbled ruins, and the city centre is a devastation slowly being cleared away. At least my BookCrossing friends are more or less unharmed, though the nervous effect of living through months of aftershocks up to about 5 on the Richter scale must be having an effect.
But the spirits of the locals rise as the liquefaction falls. Some of the city shopping streets have been reopened, the buildings demolished and replaced with temporary premises made of shipping containers.
And here and there, a cleared plot is an ugly gap, filled with a whimsy. An installation, a sculpture, a garden. Or a blue fridge full of free books!
Lonely Planet has a post-quake guide for visitors, and if you scroll down to the bottom, there is the fridge, which of course is an Official BookCrossing Release Zone. Look here and here for the books currently on the swap shelf.