Chile Earthquake Madness Feb 27, 2010

We were awoken last night by the 8.8 earthquake that hit chile. We ran to our children’s rooms after we realized it was not the usual 10 sec shaker which is so common here given the subduction zone of the pacific and continental plate here which among other things produces the Andean mountain range with dozens of sub 20,000 ft peeks. We huddled under the doorways with a kid each in hand. Thankfully our house survived structually, although we could hear shattering glass throughout the house. It seemed to go on forever, reports say 90 secs but if you told me it was 5 minutes I would believe you.

Afterwards we gathered outside in the yard with Tata Emilio who is with us. We managed to get back to sleep eventually and rode out the aftershocks which were impressive unto themselves and super frequent, just had a biggish one again a good 9 hours later.

Our house suffered some damage including lots of blown out shelves, smashed tv, some shattered windows, 18 inches of the pool water level tossed out, etc etc but nothing important, we are thrilled to be safe and to learn that all of our immediate family is as well. However we got news of an immediate horrifying tragedy in our extended family involving loss of life of young children, a visceral reminder of the seriousness of the situation and i’m sure of similar news that will be affecting many folks here and where tsunami lands.

Thankyou to all ofour friends and family that have written with concern and well wishes, we will update more when can, for now we have no phoneor electric or water and cell phone battery is almost dead. Prayers to all those affected. Much love, forest and Cristina and the boys.

Chilequake Day 3

We’ve been without water and electricity the last few days.  As there is no electricity in our general part of the city (the north) there is also no gas at the stations (no pumps), so we’ve been mostly home bound.  At the house we have the swimming pool water to use for flushing the toilets and for washing dishes, so we’ve been relatively well off.  We bbqed the defrosting meet from the freezer so it wouldn’t go bad, and we have plenty of fruits and vegetables.  We were down to our last bottle of drinkable water, but on a excursion to the ‘hood we found a store open and were able to re-supply with plenty of water.  We’ do have gas for the stove, so we’ve been able to eat well.  We have candles for the evening but basically have been going to bed with the sun.  The moon has been full these last few days, which has made the nights calming.

The aftershocks are very frequent, surely we must have had 50 or more by now… they come with such frequency that sometimes we don’t even bother to mention them.  They are thankfully all smaller and decreasing further in intensity each time they appear.  Sunday morning there was a aftershock that was pretty long, and we jocked that “in a normal climate, that would have been a big one”… we later heard that it was a 6.0 and was nearby in Valparaiso, indeed, a big one by normal standards but for us that is now a baby-quake!

Our immediate family and friends all seem to be fine—we don’t have good phone access as our cell phones are dead.  Today i’m at a relative’s in Santiago so that I can call family in a few hours (when pacific coast wakes up), and reports are that by and large folks are ok, even our cousin and her 6 children from Curico, which is very very close to the epicenter.  Their town (Curico) got pretty flattened, but their house and the houses of their friends and colleagues from the farm were thankfully all ok.

Unfortunately some of our extended family were touched by this tragedy in the worst way possible–a cousin lost two young children to a tsunami wave, they were very close to the epicenter vacationing.  We will try to go to the mass this weekend with other family members.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles.

Thank you to everyone that has emailed us with concern and well wishes—it has been very comforting to receive your notes.  Chile is generally well prepared for earthquakes because they are so common here, but even with great construction codes the devastation is palpable, even though I have seen almost nothing on the television or web (as we have been without electricity), so at this point you all know more than we do.

Forest, Cristina, the boys, and Tata Emilio who is with us.

5 Days, Still no Electricity

So i wanted to start with something positive, so here is a nice picture taken earlier this (southern hemisphere) summer by our friend Jeannie Duisenberg who visited us for a lovely week together with her partner Rich Hlava.  We had so much fun with them, we were sad to see them go!  One of our two kittens is pictured here with us, her name is Bilz.

Bilz is sister of the other cat, Pap.  Bilz y Pap is a duo of “fantasy drinks” (aka sugar water with carbonation and lots of synthetic coloring) that are homegrown Chilean brands, just like Inka Cola in Peru (which has a coloring additive that is banned in the united kingdom from studies that show that it makes young kids *crazy*).  Here’s a picture of Bilz & Pap cartoon characters, that proudly rep the sugar water to young children and parents everywhere in Chile.  We liked them so much, and the kids the sugar water, that we named the kittens accordingly.


Ok, with that positive story off my chest (so that this blogroll doesn’t become all doom and gloom), i’ll update you that we are in the minority of Santiago residents that still don’t have electricity, ending day 5 and soon to be going on day 6 since the earthquake.  Thank god for our pool, which is providing lots of water for washing dishes and for the toilets, as well as a natural bath of sorts, albeit highly chlorinated.  We’ve burned through our candles, so I’m off to get some more for this evening.  The kids have been going to bed early with the sun, which is a plus as we get ready for the school year which starts monday (Was supposed to start today, but was moved out because of the quake, since our school, like many, was out of electricity for a while).  Otherwise, we continue to be safe and thankful!

Electricity, Electricity!

Electricity is a great thing, especially when it powers the pump that draws water from the well deep in the earth beneath your home owners group’s shared property.  The swimming pool showers, toilet refills, and dish washing was getting really old. A world without electricity is now much easier for us to imagine—it is one devoid of light in the evenings, of iphone charging during the day, of VOIP telephony to talk to business colleagues in China and the USA, and without the joy of LED powered LCD monitors full of lovely images to watch. 

Carlos had done a unit of inquiry at his 2nd grade class in Beijing last year, and they talked about electricity in other ways—but somehow i think the Chilean Earthquake lesson on electricity was much more compelling?  I know he and his brother will remember the earthquake more for it’s lack of electricity than for its overpowering rattling forces and shattering windows.

Kids are now in school (day 2) and dealing with the crash course of being surrounded by spanish speakers all day long; not loving it so far but who could.  I do think they will adapt quickly, and we should be enjoying spanish only chit-chat in 6-8 weeks time.

Here’s some photos of our house and neighborhood with earthquake destruction (which I hadn’t been able to upload easily without, electricity…)

Here’s the living room window blown out by a collapsing bar.  This and our smashing TV set were the loudest of the glass breaking events in the house proper:


Many of the walls surrounding farms in our neighborhood were knocked over in long stretches, sometimes for several hundred yards at a time, like this one just down the street.  Good thing it didn’t fall into the street, as that would have cut off our access to get food/water!


And here’s the toxic cloud of muck created by a explosion at a nearby chemical plant.  The gray cloud is dark dark dark black in a properly exposed photo, and the clear white sky on the horizon was the otherwise clear sky that day.  i’ve been itching my skin ever since, wondering if we have real chemical/toxic exposure!


5 replies on “Chile Earthquake Madness Feb 27, 2010”

We were so glad to hear that you are all OK! Now we are watching all the news about the tsunami that may hit Hawaii. Grandma sends you her prayers- Happy Birthday! – We Love You
Marie and Grandma

Hi Guys,

Great to hear you survived without injury. Looks pretty serious from the TV reports. Very sorry to read that someone you know lost a loved one.

Thinking of you all.

Forest et al,

I checked your blog to see how you folks were since I don’t seem to have an email address for you. Glad to hear you are all OK. Sounded beyond scary.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s