What can you say about an earthquake far from home?... Not much, except you sympathize with those people who were affected. What can you say about an earthquake far from home that you were involved in?...Read on...
My wife and I were headed to Santiago to rendezvous with the Star Princess in Valaparaiso four days later. We flew out of Newark airport on February 25 during a major snowstorm on the first leg of our flight to Toronto. We arrived in Toronto and faced a three hour delay and left for Santiago, Chile at 2:30AM. We finally landed, finished with customs, picked up our bags and were on our way to our small boutique hotel in the Provedencia section of Santiago. We cheked in, then went out and had a wonderful dinner and toasted each other with these words: "We dodged a major snow storm and thank goodness we're here in Santiago!"
Fast forward...3:34AM,February 26...We were awoken by a loud thunderous sound and the bed began to shake. I thought it was a major thunderstorm. My wife, Shelley, said it must be an earthquake.The horendous loud noises, dogs barking in the street, lamps crashing to the floors, the bed moving, and car sirens blasting, was followed by an erie silence for about a minute or two.The earthquake lasted about 2 minutes.
After it stopped, Shelley sat up on the edge of the bed, while I walked to the bathroom window to look out into the street.I saw nothing--all lights were out--there was no electricity.I opened the door to our room and peeked out as others did the same. We quickly put on our clothes on in the dark(didn´t have my camera to show the various outfits people put together on such short notice!).
We left our room and gingerly walked down the stairs to the street. Some of the hotel guests had flashlights which lit our way. There was no panic from any of the guests. When we got to the street we met our fellow guests. The conversations ranged from "what happened", "is anyone hurt", to "where are the police" and "I left everything in my room". At the urging of Shelley, I went to the room to get our money, passports, etc. I didn´t have a flashlight, but used the screen light from my iTouch, to light the way.(Note to Apple: this could be a great new commercial). One the two staff members, had rushed home to check on his family and who immediately returned to the hotel, moved his car to the front of the hotel and turned on the radio so we could listen to the news reports in Spanish, as a guest translated for us.
The staff set candles, got water, and helped us in every way possible(kudos to Hotel Orly!). The guests bonded. The lights came on briefly and then went out. Nighttime turned into early morning as the aftershocks started.
The people of Santiago were tremendous. Everyone has been helpful. The city had mostly minor damage and as of yesterday, everything was back to normal--stores reopened, subways were running, people were food shopping. Santiago and us were very lucky.
Our hearts go out to others in Chile whose lives have been changed forever by the earthquake. Chile is a strong country and will rebuild.