Saturday, November 10, 2012

Back in the Enn Zed

Well, it's that time of year again. Time for me to head back to Antarctica. I arrived in New Zealand this morning after 3 flights, ~15 hours. I'm back in Christchurch which is an absolute wreck. Two years ago (and six days after I left) Chch was hit with a massive earthquake which damaged many of the buildings downtown and killed around 150 people. When they were rebuilding, about a year later, another massive quake struck. Now all the buildings that were being fixed have been demolished and downtown is essentially non-existent. It's very sad. I really loved coming to Chch. It was a very manageable, friendly city with some truly excellent bars and restaurants. Now it's just a bunch of thrown together strip malls and rubble. I feel bad for those who this is their first deployment. I'm fortunate in that I got to experience the real Chch before it was leveled.

I've been up now for about 36+ hours and I'm preparing to go to bed (it's 7:15pm here but I'll try to hold out as long as possible). I had a really great time so far today. I walked along one of the main streets towards the remnants of downtown until I was met with a promise of great beer from a chalkboard sign on a sidewalk. That promise was not honored. New Zealand beer is weak. Most are 4% with some pushing 5.3%. I tried the beer with the most amount of adjectives describing its flavor (usually the most you'll find are some combination of pale, crisp, and lager). It was a black lager promising hints of coffee, chocolate, and rich malts. It tasted like watered down murphy's. Where I come from, if you have the balls to make a black lager, you make it 8% and unforgettable. And then you dry-hop it.

Naturally, I had the green-shelled mussels for dinner. They are gigantic and so sweet. They came in a delicious garlic cream sauce with some bread to sop up the left-overs. Very delicious. While there, I overheard someone reading a paper talking about Jeb Bush v Hilary Clinton in 2016 and we struck up a conversations. It turned out he was an ex-pat who worked with the DoD fixing our C-130s for polar operations. I drank and philosophized with him, his british wife, a few local Kiwis, and all the bartenders. They were locals and apparently ran the joint. It was a lot of fun especially since there were only 3 USAP people on my flight (including me) and I didn't know either of the others. I actually hope our flight leaves on time since it would be dreadful to be stuck in this flattened husk of a city without anyone I know. If all goes as planned, we should leave monday.

I am very excited to get to Pole this year. I have friends already down there and as this is my fourth trip I sort of feel like a high-school senior. I've paid my dues, done my time, and now I'm the old fart who knows everything about the inner workings of the place. I'll even get you the answers to friday's geography test. This will also be my first deployment single which isn't to say I'm excited for the prospects (you know, the 3 women down there) but that my previous girlfriend had a tendency to stress me out to the point that I couldn't eat for the first week or so every time I deployed. So I'm looking forward to a much smoother psychological transition.

I'm starting to fade and my thoughts are becoming less coherent. I'll just end with this: ketchup does not belong on a falafel. Other than that, it was delicious. That and Kathmandu is having a 70% off of cold weather gear sale so hopefully they are open on sundays (unlike most of the stores in this damn country--it's shocking that they can sustain an economy).

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