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Published: February 28th 2010
Well, I have steady internet connection again, so I thought I would shoot a short update about what occurred here in Chile yesterday.
I was in Santiago after our long trip around Chile and Argentina and had planned to come down to Valdivia Chile, via Pucon, to meet up with some friends that I had met before that were attending a festival there. So I booked a Cama Seat (bed seat) on the 10:50 pm bus on Friday night, overnight arriving at 9 am on Saturday morning in Pucon. The exact bus I took a month ago when I started my trip. I had planned to meet my friend Chris in Pucon and then head directly to Valdivia for the meeting.
We left Santiago on time and had an uneventful first four hours. I fell asleep in my seat and was quite comfortable. At 3:30 (ish) in the morning I woke up to the bus rocking and trying to stop suddenly. I was under the assumption that we had a flat tire or a blow out, thats kind of how it felt with the rocking. But as soon as we stopped I realized that we were still rolling back and forth and though, hey this is not normal. It wasn't until I looked out the bus window and realized that the light pole was being tossed around like it was rubber, that we were in fact in an earthquake. It was a couple of minutes that we continued to shake back and forth in the bus like we were a toy being tossed back and forth, and finally everything stopped and we all collected ourselves to figure out what was going on.
We carried on, much more slowly down the road towards our destination and all of us wondered how big the earthquake really was, for all I knew it was an isolated incident where I was on the highway. Plus I really had no clue where I was. We spent much time getting through the obstacles on the highway, like walkways that had broken and fallen sideways on the highway and bridges that had fallen through. We finally pulled to a full stop with all the other buses around sunrise when we experienced an aftershock. We all got off the bus and I finally had my first opportunity to hear the local radio and get an idea of how big this earthquake really was.
As it turns out by sheer coincidence of departure time from Santiago, we were approximately 50 miles from the epicenter of the quake on the highway inland.
We couldn't go any further at that point because the bridge in front of us had completely collapsed, so our bus headed back to Los Angeles to assess the situation. We pulled up in front of a grocery store with windows that were broken and the structure was falling apart. We would have loved to purchase some of the food there, but no luck. We were in Los Angeles for around 4 hours since there was a ban on bus travel in the country, so we wandered over to grab some food. I was really impressed with how calm everyone was in the city, there was no electricity so the stores had closed but were offering people purchases through their gates. Everyone was lined up in an organized manner and people were taking only what they needed to insure that everyone was able to get something. I acquired some saltine crackers and cola light (there was no water to be found) and a couple of apples.
We were feeling tremors all afternoon, and we switched back and forth between standing in the blazing sun and sitting on the bus when they turned on the air conditioning. The thought was to go back to Santiago, but we were without much information and calling to anyone was very difficult. Finally we got approval to leave but to head down south to our original destination, Pucon, using a different route around the original highway that was missing bridges.
The trip was through beautiful country, lots of fields of corn and sunflowers and as we moved south there was less noticeable damage to the buildings and roads. We stopped once as they were repairing a portion of the road right in front of us. We had a group that decided to head down to Temuco from Los Angeles in a van and pay extra since they were in a hurry. We picked them up on the road on the way to Pucon since their van had broken down, twice. It was amazing, couldn't believe it was them again.
We arrived safely in pucon after being on the bus for about 24 hours. Thanks to technology my mom reconnected me with my friend Chris by talking with him on Gmail and texting me on my iphone. Incredible what you can do these days. Thanks to my mom for updating everyone on Facebook for me.
Pucon is a nice oasis from everything that is happening. Really a beautiful place. We are keeping an eye on the volcano here, but so far no signs of any danger. The news is on 24 hours a day here, restaurants are open, and we can only feel occasional tremors left over. all of us woke up to an aftershock this morning at about 8:30 am but it wasn't very strong.
It seems I have no options to go north, so it looks like I will attempt to go east. We are going to try and catch a bus to Bariloche tomorrow and see if we can't head towards Buenos Aires. I will keep everyone updated, but not to worry about me, I am far away from the current situation. The people in Concepcion are in my thoughts and prayers. There is a lot that they need right now and a lot of people are still missing loved ones. Many people here are unable to contact friends and relatives in the cities affected on the coast. The people on our bus were incredibly nice to me yesterday, giving me some of their extra food and helping me translate to understand exactly what was going on. I can not begin to thank them enough.
SO please don't worry about me. I am fine and will get out of here as I can. Its a slow process without reservations systems working for the buses, but I will attempt to get to Argentina tomorrow where I will be in much better shape.
Thank you all for you thoughts and prayers. I really appreciate all of your contact via Facebook and otherwise.
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Oh thank God.
Thank goodness you're ok, and were not in the thick of it. Get back home soon!!!
Get your butt back to the States ASAP
Thanks for the update. Let us know when you get into Argentina and what your plans are from there. I know how much you love an adventure, but it's time to get you back to the US. Love you!
Hi there, Glad to hear that you are safe, sounds scary. I am currently travelling in Bariloche and all is fine here. Would recommend coming, a lovely place (and a great hostel called Patanuk). We were aiming to head to Pucon, maybe via San Martin de los Andes, but not sure whether it is still wise to head in to Chile. What would your thoughts be? It sounds like Pucon is functioning as normal from what you say? Good luck with your travels, jessica (from England)
I stumbled across your blogs and have spent the last 2 hours reading all of them. Amazing pics! What a wonderful journey! I would love to see Germany and some of South America as well. Well...take care!
Thinking of you!
Be careful! We will keep you in thoughts and in prayers.