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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Serendipity

There I was, in Christchurch, exploring the city and passing the time until the rugby match later on in the evening. I was hanging around cathedral square, and there was a free public concert with a pretty good acoustic band. It was a pretty nice day outside and while there was still some daylight left I wanted to walk through one of the central parks and take a few pictures by the Avon River.

While waiting at the corner for the signal to cross, I noticed a younger woman and an older woman staring at me. I smiled at them and said hello, and they then asked me if I was from around here. I noticed right away they had North American accents and I laughed and said that no, I wasn't and I was actually from Virginia, in the States.

I asked them which state they were from, and they said they were actually from Canada. This happens to me a lot when I meet Canadian people. I swear they don't talk like Bob and Doug McKenzie all the time. It happens to me in reverse, too, and several times I've had Kiwis try to guess where I'm from and usually they guess Canada first.

Anyways, they were a mother and daughter touring New Zealand and they needed to find something called an i-Site, which is a tourist info center they have in nearly every town and city throughout the country. I told them it was back up in cathedral square and that they couldn't miss it. They thanked me and went on their way.

A few minutes after this, I realized I had forgotten my camera, so I went back to the parking garage to get it out of the car. On my way back down to the park I went through cathedral square again and ran into the same mother and daughter. I asked them if they had found the place yet and they laughed and said they didn't even make it to the square yet, as they kept going into all of the shops. So we said our goodbyes again and I went on to the park.

After about an hour or so I left the park and went to The Bard, a nice pub in downtown Christchurch where I usually watch the rugby matches ('footies'). I was meeting Danie and Rita there later, but they were still not due in yet for another one or two hours. So I went in to the pub, ordered some food, and went to an open table.

As I was hanging my coat on the back of the chair, I looked up and saw the same mother and daughter sitting at the table next to me! I laughed and said something stupid like "We've got to stop meeting like this!" and they invited me to sit down with them.

Heather and Jill, mother and daughter, were in New Zealand for a couple of weeks as Jill was on her way to Australia for a year of study. Seems she had just won a prestigious scholarship in international politics that had something like only eight openings, and she not only won one of those she got the only full scholarship available. They had flown in to Wellington a few days before, took the ferry across, and drove down the whole western side of the south island, around the bottom, and all the way up the east again until they got to here in Christchurch. They had this one last night in town before they flew out to Australia in the morning. They were going to take the cable car up to the top of the hill overlooking both the city and the ocean later on and were just getting a bite to eat before they left.

It was really great talking to them both, they were from Vancouver Island and it sounds very much like New Zealand. Heather said if I ever made it up that way to look her up and she gave me her card. Turns out she's a principal at a gifted school up there. I also got Jill's email address and I look forward to keeping in touch with her as she really is an interesting girl.

They finished their food and said their goodbyes as they headed off for the cable car. I took a seat at the bar and had a little more time to kill before Danie and Rita showed up. I was sitting next to a guy named Brian, who was a regular at this pub, but only recently. Seems he used to frequent another pub in town, called Warner's, but he had a little row with the pub's owner. Apparently the owner has anger management issues and didn't like how friendly Brian was with the owner's wife, even though they were old friends and they would only occasionally eat dinner together, and even then in full view of the owner and the rest of the bar. Still, not wanting to cause trouble, Brian left Warner's and started coming to the Bard instead.

Brian was divorced like me, but he also had two grown sons who still lived in New Zealand. His ex-wife was cheating on him and once he discovered this he filed for divorce. I felt bad for the guy as this was a pretty tough thing for anyone to take, but he seems to be doing all right. His sons are both successful, one of whom just had a daughter, and Brian also has a ten year old Boxer dog that keeps him company. Brian also was an active playwright and poet, and had acted in quite a few plays around Christchurch over the years. The city is considered the theatrical hub of the country and he knew very much about it. I told him I had done a little acting and writing in the past, and he encouraged me to start going to writing workshops.

Maybe I'll give it a go, but I wonder if, as a writer, I'm turning out to be a pretty good veterinarian.

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