|Souvenirs - our room key from the Grand Chancellor|
We're in Christchurch briefly, between flights that will take us on to Auckland later this evening. Have I mentioned how Air New Zealand is officially the most awesome airline in the world? They've added tons of flights and are booking them for $50 anywhere in country for anyone affected by the quake. They managed to get us all on flights up to Auckland from Queenstown today ("no charge, of course" for changing us from CHCH->AKL). D and the kids continue on to San Francisco; I'll spend the night in AKL, visit the embassy first thing in the morning to get a shiny new passport, then catch my flight tomorrow afternoon, inshallah.
At the moment, we're camped out at the USAP Travel Office at the CHCH airport. Apparently, just this morning, they've managed to track down the last unaccounted-for USAP person - all safe. For folks who didn't find their way into the good graces of Air NZ, USAP has added a couple of relief flights up to AKL (last chance for a Herc ride until November!). Love these folks.
Everyone keeps asking about our stuff in the Grand Chancellor. We don't know. No one knows. Building might fall over, might not. Might just have to get knocked over to make sure it doesn't destroy too much else on its way down. No one knows if/when/how loss of stuff in the hotel will be handled - everyone's playing it by ear.
Yeah, I lost a bunch of stuff; some of it irreplaceable. But we keep reflecting on how lucky we were (remember: I'm the lucky one, right?). Just happened to be in the car, clear of town, with a full tank of gas, good shoes, and all our warm/rain gear when the quake hit. While we were hanging out in Wanaka with fresh garden salsa and chips, some of my friends were checking in online from the refugee camp in Hagley Park.
Next check in will be from Palo Alto, Sunday afternoon, if all goes well.