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Published: March 5th 2010
This is an update from Chile in the aftermath of the earthquake at 3:30 AM local time, February 27:
Yesterday was, well, stressful! We were awoken about 3:30 AM our time to some violent shaking in our hotel room in downtown Santiago. It is hard to describe the feelings of helplessness as we lay in bed with things being thrown around the room, and the fear that the building was about to collapse. It felt like the earthquake went on for an eternity, but in reality it was only about 90 seconds. The power was off, we were in the dark, wondering what was next. We opened the doorway to the hall and it was pitch black, no emergency lighting. Of course, the elevator was not working, so how would we find our way out? We groped our way about, got dressed, packed our bags. Along the way I remembered that my cell phone had a built-in flashlight so we were able to see our way down the hall and stairwell to the lobby. On our way down the stairs we passed a young man in a tuxedo and his bride in a wedding dress heading for their room. They had obviously just arrived at the hotel from their reception when the earthquake struck.
We stayed in the hotel lobby for the rest of the night. Someone had a radio on and reports were flowing in, much rumour. We were planning on checking out that day, so we had a decision to make about trying to leave the city, or staying put for a few more days. My worry was that there may have been bridges or overpasses fallen and blocking the highway on the way to our destination here in Concon. About 7:30, a couple of very rattled ladies from Montreal arrived at the hotel. We had seen them at the hotel earlier in the week. They had been in Valparaiso, which is just south of us here. They said Val was in a mess, they were scared and didn´t want to stay there. Right after the quake, they were lucky to find a bus about to leave for Santiago. What I learned from them was that the roads to the coast were clear of damage. Unlike them, we felt that we would be better off at the coast. I had spent a few days here before heading in to Santiago to meet Mariette, and knew the house overlooking the ocean was somewhere I would rather be than in a powerless, highrise-infested downtown Santiago. I had bus tickets already purchased for our trip to Concon, and we caught a cab to the bus terminal about an hour before the scheduled departure. With the airport closed, and many roads blocked, the terminal was a madhouse. I was able to learn from the bus company that all their buses that day were canceled. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I found a taxi driver and asked him if he would drive us to the coast, and for how much. We negotiated a price for the trip; I must have got a good deal from him because I heard him get shit from his dispatcher when he told him the rate! Shortly after noon we arrived in Concon. The building our apartment only had a bit of plaster fall off the outside walls, but was otherwise fine. They had power and internet, but no water at the time. We swapped war stories about the quake. A small tsunami had hit the beach in front shortly after the quake, but was only about 4´ above a normal high tide. Our house is over 50 feet above sea level, so there was little chance of water damage up here. The water service returned sometime in the afternoon, after we had made a shopping trip to pick up some stuff to stock our kitchen. The supermarket was jammed with people, probably stocking up in the ambiance of fear existing in the aftermath of the quake. With the water off, there was no bottled water to be found. We decided to eat in last night, so we picked up some food for supper as well.
Since arriving in Concon, we have noticed small aftershocks, tremors, about every 4 hours or so. I told Mariette that it was like those massage chairs in malls, but we don´t have to plug in a loonie! Despite the pandemonium now in Chile, we feel quite safe and insulated in our apartment on the coast. We have a fantastic view of the ocean and beach below us. The tremors are disconcerting, but, I know in the aftermath of the big quake yesterday, the chances of any further serious seismic activity are slim.
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