by Alana Bowman
Cuba Street is usually one of the most interesting streets in Wellington – always on tourist lists because it is so busy, full of odd sights, unique shops, colourfully dressed people, and the old, historic buildings. But now … its buildings are closed and gated, with leaves in the doorways like a scene from an old Hollywood Western movie.
Few cars are parked on the street, and only an occasional delivery van or passenger car drives cautiously through.
The usual shops that are anchors for the area are shut. The Wellington Trawling Fish Company, Slowboat Records, the Ferret Bookshop are all dark, even in the bright day. Pubs and cafes have signs warning there is no cash or alcohol on the premises.
There is a noticeable absence of the scent of cannabis, but more boom boxes and a few people on mobile phones – unaware of how loud they sound with so little noise around them.
With few of us walking around Cuba Street now, we smile and wave from the proper distance, and cross the street if required to accommodate a family. It’s usually a side-step done obviously but with a smile or wave to show it’s not personal.
The sheer joy of walking down the middle of the street and sauntering across the intersection of Highway 1, known also as the Inner City Bypass and usually requiring nearly two minutes wait for the light to change. All that’s different with very few clumps of cars now requiring the right-of-way.
Only a couple of people wander past the National War Memorial and Pukeahu Park, and a lone skate boarder clatters right down the middle of Tory Street.
But dogs, dogs, dogs – and bears – around Webb Street.