Earthquake

As you are probably already aware, we suffered a pretty bad earthquake here in chile early saturday morning.  i am very shooken up and still jittery 1.5 days later, but i am totally fine.  the hotel i am in suffered only cosmetic damage and still has power, water, food and helpful invaluable staff.  I´ll try and relate my story.

Friday i decided to rent a car and see some of Chile while my friend Kevins was still in town.  we ended up with a truck and set off to explore the coast some.  we left santiago for San Antonio and then followed the coast up to Valpraiso.  We inched our way to Vina del Mar through heavy holiday traffic and then had some delicious food.  we decided to look for a place since it was getting late.  it turned out that every place was fully booked, and after a few hours of looking we headed back to santiago.  i made it to my hotel about 1 am and fell asleep by 2.  I thank God I am here and not some old hostel in a city i don´t know anyone in.

I woke up to a siren going off.  i felt something was amiss but didn´´t  know what was going on.  then my bed starting shaking, and i thought that was a bad sign.  then it stopped shaking and a second later the entire hotel started rumbling and shaking.  it was like an airplane hitting really bad turbulence, but remove the plane and replace it with a 17 story concrete and steel building.  i jumped off the bed and curled up into a ball to reduce my footprint in case the building collapsed.  i was so nervous tho i got up and looked out the window.  i wish i hadn´t.  it was a moonlight night, and i could see pretty good, but all the building around me (15 to 25 stories) where lit up by arcing electrical lines.  in the brief flashes of light i could see all the buildings swaying like crazy, like palm tree´s in a hurricane.  it was the craziest and scariest thing I have ever seen.  I was sure they would start collapsing one by one, but they just continued to sway.  i got back on the floor and rode it out there. 

i seemed to last an eternity, but once it started slowing down i grabbed all my clothes, wallet and passport and ran to the stairs.  no one else was around, and in a few seconds i was in the lobby.  there where a few people there, but i busted ass outside.   I think i was the 5th person out, and probably the most dressed.  people slowly filtered out and soon we had a crowd.  none of us knew what to do, we where all just standing there.  i walked as far from the tall buildings as I could and socialized.  people on the higher floors had it way way worse.  some of their doors jammed shut and they had to pry them open.  the water from their toilets spilled out onto their bathroom floors.  even the rooftop swimming pool leaked into the top floors!  but no one was hurt and the hotel staff did an admiral job of keeping order and comforting everyone. 

after 2 hours or so most people filed back into the lobby where the hotel staff handed out blankets (i was freezing and had only  a tshirt on) and served an impromtu breakfast and coffee.  i can´t say enough about how great this hotel is.  the make sure our needs are met even though they must be concerned about their own family.  Thank you Hotel El Bosque!

Eventually some people went up to their rooms, but i stayed in the lobby with maybe 50 other people.  i didn´t get more than a half hour of sleep, and every aftershock sent me running outside (yes, i know thats the wrong thing to do but its hard to ignore your instincts).  About 7 or 8 I finally went up to my room and relaxed a little bit.  i organized my stuff, used the restroom, and watched TV.  Then the biggest aftershock hit.  It wasn´t bad, but it started out like the big one so its hard to tell how hard it was going to hit.  I booked it down the stairs and out into the street again.

Once daylight hit I took a look around, but it was hard to see any damage.  Some broken windows and minor debris down, but nothing else.  I called Kevin up to see if he was OK.  He was on the 13th floor and very jittery, but otherwise fine. 

I would spend the rest of the day chatting in the hotel lobby and randomly walking around to calm my nerves.  Some traveler´s from the US and I ordered pisco sours, but the waiters nerves where shot and they spilled 2 rounds of drinks!  We eventually got our alchohol and food, and Kevin stopped by.   More time was spent in the lobby trying to laugh off incidents (one guy was in his boxers and nothing else and he wouldn´t go back up!), but we where all still a little freaked out.  We had dinner at the hotel, it was probably one of a few places open in Santiago.  I spent the night again in the lobby, but this time there where only 3 of us.  I just couldn´t fall asleep in my bed.  Every aftershock is amplified by the 5 stories up my room was, but hardly anything was felt in the lobby.  So i slept like a baby.

Sunday was more of the same, but more people are haning out in their rooms.  More shops and restaurants are opening up, and i expect things to return closer to normality tomorrow.  i have some pics, but nothing spectacular.

For the meantime, i am just waiting to see what happens next.

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4 Responses to “Earthquake”

  1. Nick Jasas Says:

    Derek, Based on your story and what we hear up here you have survived one hell of an earthquake down there. We are glad to hear you are totally fine. Keep out of harms way (as much as you can) and the best of luck. Nick & Darlene

  2. Penny Karr Says:

    (((( Dee )))) We’re all so relieved that you’re okay!!! Good grief!!! Definately NOT the kind of excitement you were looking for in your new job down there, huh? 😦

    I wanted to say that I love all the photos you’ve been sending! They are beautiful! 🙂 🙂

    Be safe down there on your journeys and praying that San Tiago and its people (including you) will stay safe from any more of Mother Nature!

    Love you!

  3. Bob Daniels Says:

    Great to hear you are ok. We’ve been worried from here trying to account for people. Let me know if there’s anything I can do from C’Ville. I don’t expect that I will get to Chile for some time although I will still try to look you up when I do arrive.

    I appreciate your blog & have been a faithfull reader to now. Keep it up & stay positive.

    Bob

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