Published: April 19th 2012April 19th 2012
Mum was lying on a sun lounger reading when the 8.6 quake occurred, apparently a significant enough quakes to make worldwide headlines and generate mass panic..except for mum, who chose to just keep reading. She felt her lounge start shaking and thought..hmm..what's going on here. So she stood up, lifted the lounger to see if there were 'animals' under there moving around. Now think about this. Statistically, what are the chances that a couple of pangolins wandered out of the jungle and thought, yes, just what we need for our romantic interlude, an australian on a sun lounge, right at that moment. Like that would happen! Now statistically, the chances of an earthquake on the Sandra arc is pretty high, up there in the top places likely to make your lounge move.
So mum stood up, and satisfied there were no pangolins or giant lizards under her, lay down again and picked up her reader. Still shaking...wind perhaps? No, trees aren't rustling cant be that, oh well. Mum truly mastered the art of Ahh, don't panic,everything's fine. And it was.
shortly afterwards Frederika went over to ask mum if she had been ok with the quake. Oh, so that's what it was!
Obviously mums next question was would we be ok out diving. Mum followed down to the pier to wait for the dive boat to come in. Phonecalls started flooding in from guests relatives, staff And owners family's and the mainland contacts. Dad had rang in a total state as the Tsunami warnings went off around the Indian Ocean and newsfeeds began pouring in. He heres Breaking news Massive 8.2 Sumatra quake tsunami warnings mass evacuations...and im still hearing the outboard motors whisking us back to the pier. He has rang the resort and got a yes we are ok but other calls are coming in message, mum has tried to text him on her phone and couldnt get through so everyone moved to the pier wifi hotspot because no matter what, facebook is now the quickest way to reach everyone anywhere in the world at once. Satellite do not fail us now.
I got in from my dive and Mum came over and everyone said Oh you missed all the excitement, we had an earthquake. As much of my studies and research is in the natural hazards area geomorphology is my pet gig and my first
words at being told I had missed the quake were...."Oh you're shitting me? I MISSED another one?"
I was heading for a hot coffee and trying to peel my wetsuit off when mum asked if she could use my phone to ring Dad. I headed back to the bungalow and turned it on to find 16 missed calls. As soon as I turned it on it rang and Giant sounded totally stressed as he told me they had issued a tsunami warning and it was heading towards us and to run for high ground and that Dad and my sister had been ringing him and everyone was frantic.........i just wanted a coffee.
I assured him we were fine and said I would hang up so mum could call Dad. As soon as I hung up Dad rang...and didnt I get in trouble! Quick Run Tsunami Warning massive earthquake all these words coming out of his mouth in a big jumble and im trying to reassure him everything is FINE and we are FINE and dont worry Dad, I study these things, I lecture about them even. I know what to do. As we are talking I am keeping
an eye over the edge of the bar on the pier looking for telltale signs on the seafloor just below us. Nope, no holes suddenly appearing, no drawing back of the water level, no rippling. He manages to stop for long enough to pose what is probably the worlds most asked and stupidest question in times like this..."How are you going to get off the island?" in his grumpiest voice. "Ahm, by boat Dad"...and the retort was a far grumpier "You know what I bloody mean, how are you going to get off the island of sumatra!!!"..."Well, Dad, look the quakes just happened and information is sketchy so I dont know if theres any damage to roads and the mainland and airports"..."Theyve closed Phuket airport".."Ok Dad, look, when I know more I will keep you updated". We couldve continued down this path for a while when I rounded out the conversation because I felt a shift beneath my feet.
Another one. This one 8.2. As ive mentioned, geomorphology is my gig. Its probably wrong to say I was excited as hell but the quake was AWESOME! A classic horizontal plate movement sway - imagine a belly dancer undulating her
hips, not the frantic shaking, a fluid side to side shuffle. Massive tectonic plates dancing down beneath my feet as I sat in a bar on a pier on a tropical island drinking sirsop juice in a wetsuit. Everyone was looking around in an eerie calm silence..waiting to see how long this one would last..if it would intensify..when it would stop. It lasted quite a while, according to Mum longer than the first and this one she felt a lot more powerfully...knowledge is power and ignorance is bliss perhaps?
I grabbed my IPad and recorded an interview with Mum describing the quakes and also with Marco about the construction materials used that make Cubadak one of the most delightful places on this planet to experience a 8 quake if you have to have a quake. Unlike Padang which was devastated by a quake that killed 1,300 in 2009 and the deadly quakes that are part of living on the sundra arc, Cubadak is all built out of dense heavy timbers which sway and move with the earth. I will upload the links to both the interviews when I have charged my Ipad..possibly the best $500 I ever spent. I
got to answer the hundred ARE YOU OK CHECK IN PLEASE messages in one easy post..chill people we are all ok going for dinner.
I realised how chilled out mum had become while we were having dinner after the quakes. As she tucked into Venison (the deer are wild on the island) and lobster and prawns she was comparing the days events with a french lady about her age. She said.."Oh yes, when whats his name rang he was panicking" and turned to me and said..whats his name again?.
They have been married 48 years. In the whole duration of their marriage they have spent a grand total of 18 months living alone just with eachother after my sister and I moved out and before my grandmother moved in. In her alone time on Cubadak, she found her brave bone but forgot his name. I will put that one down to delayed nervous excitement/shock.
She slept like a log that night...right through the little tremors that carried on gently rocking the bungalow through out the night. I drifted off to sleep mentally doing calculations about future stresses in related fault lines on the sundra arc..
There are more photos below