Monday, March 1, 2010

Email: March 1, 2010 10:49am (Chile time)

Subject: The Start of day 3

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to send another update to let you all know we are doing well. Night #2 went much smoother and thankfully we were able to sleep better.

Yesterday when I sent the email, we were heading to the supermarket. Luckily it was early meaning that it wasn't yet packed, although it was already busy, and that there was food left. We got food that doesn't need to be cooked or necesarrily heated up. Yogurt, lunch meats, canned tuna, cereal, things of that sort. By the time we were in line waiting, the store was packed and no bagged bread was even on the shelves. Luckily Chile is known for its homemade bread and the store, plus many other small bakeries, kept on baking bread. We then went to a small market to get some bottled watter and a different store for some veggies. I can't say enough just how lucky we are to even have a place to sleep, electricity and water working and be able to have money to even buy things from the grocery store. Credit cards aren't working much, although Christian was able to put gas in the car with the visa. My mother-in-law luckily had a stash of cash at home and lent us money since we don't know when the ATMs and bank services will be up and running again. We shouldn't need money for anything else now that we have food, but since you never know it is better to have money with you.

After the grocery store, we had lunch. My mother-in-law's kitchen has an electric oven so we were able to bake some chicken. We baked extra so that we could bring it to Santiago with us. Pretty much after lunch we made our way home. Two of our friends were also in Viña saying goodbye to their family there because they had a flight to the USA tonight to move there permanently. They won't be flying out today since the airport is closed and my friend told me they got tickets for next Sunday. But they were trying to get back to Santiago via bus and luckily we were able to get ahold of them before we left Viña to give them a ride. It sure made the 2 hour drive back to Santiago feel much shorter.

The highway from VIña to Santiago is fine. We had no problems or obstacles along the way. Once we took the Costanera Norte highway entering Santiago, to get to Providencia, that is where there were some issues, but nothing that stopped us from getting home. See, that highway has a lot of bridges and overpasses, and the first bridge we crossed, there was a guy telling us to practically stop and go suppppper slow over the bridge. Why? Well because on each end it has separated a bit and the cracks were covered with large sheets of metal. The rest of the bridges mostly had new bumps in the road over which we had to drive slowly as well. Once we got into Providencia it was almost like nothing had happened. You couldn't see much damage to the buildings at all. Some of the old houses, which are few, did have visable damage like roof tiles broken, windows broken etc. There is a church in Providencia which was pretty damaged, but we didn't see it. We did see some other churches with the stained glass broken and some of the decorative structure broken.

We got to our apartment and you couldn't tell anything had happened from outside. The elevators weren't working and still aren't so let me tell you how fun it was to climb 12 flights of stairs to the 11th floor (our parking in underground). I can't complain much as I did it only twice whereas Christian has done it about 6 times. When we opened the door we found pretty much everything on the floor. The wine glasses I had put on the new shelving unit in the living room were shattered, all but 4 which somehow made it through. The other small shelving unit with the phone and misc. items was on its face. All our clothes had fallen from the closet and the closet doors are a bit broken. Neither of the lamps broken in our room even though they were on the floor. In our computer room, the standing closet had one of its doors on the ground. Our LCD TV which was connected to a computer and used as both a TV and computer, was hanging by its cables from the desk. Somehow, it is also working perfectly, which is helpful in writing you this email. The guest room suffered the drawers falling over and marking the wall a bit and the windows opened by themselves. The bed moved a good foot from the wall but nothing more than that. The kitchen suffered the worst. The computer we used as a server to connect the webcams to see Dulcinea during the day, crashed to the ground (it was above the cubboards). The microwave which was on top of the fridge, fell behind it. The light on the ceiling fell off, although the light bulbs are still there. Some small plates from inside of the cabinet fell out and shattered. Our little laundry room was almost impossible to open thanks to the ironing board which had jarred it shut. But christian finally got it open and we were able to get the broom and other items to clean up the floors. During the time we were cleaning I had to lock DUlcinea in her travel home as it was too dangerous for her to be walking around with glass on the floor. You can see pictures of all of this on Christian's album. I will be getting pictures of the highway bridge incidents up later. You will also see how our building was built in the pictures--in 3 separate partes with space in between as to allow for movement. They have been like that forever, they were just covered up with metal pieces or sheet rock, which fell off after the quake. So now we can see the building in front of us from the crack or the floor below us where the separation exists. But it is to accomodate the movement and no structural damage has happened to the building because of it.

I got word that I don't have to go to work until Wednesday which was a big relief because it gives me time to finish cleaning and organizing the mess. Plus I am just not ready to be separated from Christian and Duclinea. I know we are lucky and that what we experienced is nothing in comparison to those in Concepción or other cities further south, but each aftershock makes my heart race and Dulcinea is definitely altered. She knows something is wrong. Last night she felt an aftershock while she was alone in the bedroom and she went running all over the house and into her travel crate. She was frightened. Christian may have to go to work later today or tomorrow, but I will try to keep him home as long as I can! We all slept well last night, which was much needed. I only woke up once or twice and was able to go back to sleep quickly. During the night I don't think I felt any aftershocks. Before we went to bed there was one and this morning around 9:30am there was another. Thankfully they feel pretty smooth and not very strong in the apartment. I am not sure if that is because they are less intense than some of the other ones we have had or because of our building, but either way it is helpful. In fact, when Dulcinea felt one last night, I had no idea it happened. I was texting my boss back confirming I had received her message and was pacing the floor. At one point I almost lost my balance but I thought it was cuz i was going in circles, however it could have been thanks to the aftershock. Christian only told me after that there was one, as to not freak me out.

The plan for today is to make some breakfast--bread with avocado and lunch meat. Then I think we will continue to straighten up the house and look for clothes that we don't need. I want to gather as much stuff as I can to send down South to the places where people lost everything but the clothes on their backs. I have WAY too much clothes as it is and I know we will have stuff to send. I am not sure which organization will be collecting clothes but I prefer to have it ready to go. For those of you who are interested in helping out, I looked online and found the following links with information about organizations who are helping:

Anything will help. Even $5, that is just a Venti Starbucks Frap that you would be giving up. I am going to investigate if groups will be travelling down to help rebuild, I think that would be cool to take part in. We'll have to see though. I just want to help as much as I can. The pictures and news are devastating. Concepción doesn't have much left and it was the 2nd largest city in Chile. Granted, I think the construction was not as anti-sismic as in Santiago plus the strength of the earthquake just flattened and destroyed many things. The tsunami wave that hit within 15 minutes of the quake obliterated what was left as well.

A fellow foreigner who is a scientist of some sort, sent out some cool links to map the different aftershocks and quake. This link shows an actual map with points of where epicenters have been and when it took place. This link has a list, starting with the 8.8 grade quake, listing all of the aftershocks, their stregnthen, epicenter and time. As you can see there have been a ton!

Well I think that is enough for now. I am so glad my friends and family, both immediate and extended, are all ok.

Thanks for thinking of us. We really appreciate it!


Lou said...

Glad everythings okay with you guys! What a great idea to volunteer! My friend and I are coming to Chile in June to be with our pololos (well, I am officially moving to Chile in June to be with my fiance and get married etc) but we were both wondering if we could help out once we're there. I'm sure it will take them a long time to get things back together and we wanted to see if there was any way we could go down there and actively help. My heart just goes out to the people in the South where the earthquake was so damaging!

Sara said...

Wow... Thanks for posting this. I have just been reading blogs to grasp what happened because I won't be back until Sunday. It sounds scary. Glad to know you are okay!

Disclaimer—La Chilengüita is a blog created upon my personal experiences and which expresses my personal opinion that in no way represents the views my employer, family or friends.