|OK, I will never again complain about getting woken up early in the morning by the gentle sound of the watch alarm going beep, beep, beep!
I was safely tucked into my bed for the night enjoying a most pleasant dream, when all of a sudden I was startled awake by a very loud noise. At first I had no clue to what it was, but the building was shaking and I could hear things falling on the floor above my head.
I think I would be considered a middle of the road sleeper. Cory is a light sleeper, and apparently we can now say Elaine can sleep through an earthquake. Yes, an earthquake! Cory woke up immediately and by the time I was awake I could see him with a protective arm across Elaine. She sort of came to and looked rather dazed as if she didn’t really know what was happening. She became more alert when she saw Cory get up from bed and head to the door. Other people had also been disturbed from their slumber, and when Elaine heard the word earthquake, she started to understand that she had not been dreaming about a train running right past her bedroom window. At this point Elaine got up and joined Cory outside. Here they saw Mike, the Mariposa owner checking everything out with his flashlight, as the power had gone out. Cory asked if this was normal and was told no, this was a serious one. At this point Steve and Cindy our neighbours came out and we were discussing what was happening. Both Elaine and Cindy made reference to the fact that we were on an island surrounded by water, considering the possibility of a tsunami.
With everything seeming to be fine, there was little else to do but return to bed. Sleep however would not come. I felt that I was being a pretty brave little mascot until I heard Cory say he had never been so scared in his life. I think this affected Elaine as well.
It was as if Elaine and Cory were projecting their thoughts on to me. Elaine was thinking, OK, we are on the bottom floor. There are two floors above us. How high were the waves in that Boxing Day Tsunami? I don’t think I can breathe, my chest feels really tight.
Cory was thinking that it was the most frightened he has ever been in his life. The fight or flight kind of frightened. He kept thinking that the shake that almost literally tossed him out of bed likely could just be a precursor to the BIG one. Consequently he did not sleep well at all. At one point he got up, woke Elaine and tried to convince her to go for a walk, as he was sure higher ground would be much safer place to be after all. She said no and quickly fell asleep while he waited for the rest of the disaster to strike. (Fortunately only one small aftershock) A couple of hours later, we all stirred again, as the first of the aftershocks hit. We all stayed in bed until around 8:00 am, and immediately went to the internet, and sure enough google.ca had the story on the 7.1 earthquake that shook Roatan, Honduras the previous night the epicentre being just 23km from the area we were in. Cory had estimated last night that it was a 5 or 5.5, boy was he off. There were a number of stories on line about the earthquake, and how it was felt in Le Ceiba, Belize and even as far away as Cancun as well as Roatan. The first reports indicated that two people had lost their lives and 20 were injured. As the day went on the death toll and the injuries reported had doubled to 4 and 40.
Cory and Elaine promptly updated their facebook page, did a quick journal entry and update and sent a couple of emails reporting that they were alive and well. It didn’t take long before they started receiving all kinds of responses from people who had been concerned. Of course they laughed at Jeff Kuhn’s message that was waiting for them when they went on their journal that said “I shoulda known that you'd shake things up a bit on this trip!” As the day progressed Elaine and Cory’s inbox filled with messages from many of their family and friends.
As Cory and Elaine and Steve and Cindy and some of the other guests discussed the events of last night everybody was still in a state of shock and quite amazed that more damage had not occurred. Everyone seemed to be amazingly quiet and calm as they gathered in the middle of the night to share their common experience.
The internet is an amazing tool, and Cory and Elaine showed me some of the information they learned about earthquakes on line. The 7.1 seismic rating on the Richter scale is named after Charles Richter and Beno Gutenburg who developed the scale in 1935.
An earthquake between 7.1 and 7.9 is considered major and there are usually only 18 major earthquakes a year. So far there has not been a 10, which is the highest number on the Richter scale.
A 7.1 earthquake is the equivalent of 50 megatons of TNT going off. The Nagasaki atomic bomb had the equivalent of 32 kilotons.
The more the facts became real, the more relief and shock everybody seemed to feel.
Part of the shock really included that there was not more damage. I know that as Cory and Elaine were lying in bed last night they were both imaging pitching in, in the morning to help clean up the damages. Someone arriving on the island, who had not had the news on, would have no idea how everyone had been roused from their sleep the night before.
One of the internet reports made Cory and Elaine and Steve and Cindy laugh. Apparently some of the water in the pools at the resorts on the island had sloshed out during the earthquake. They were all ready to go and lend a hand to start a bucket brigade to get those pools filled back up. It seems sometimes a bit of a twisted sense of humour is necessary to relieve the stress and pressure of what was really a quite frightening experience. One of the other “tragedies” of this situation was when Cory went to the store he discovered that the eggs had survived the quake, but the shelves with the alcohol were not so fortunate and the remains of bottles and alcohol lay scattered on the floor.
As they day progressed and turned to night, it was still very evident that all the people who had experienced this event were still a little on edge, as they were quite skittish and jumpy at the slightest sound or noise.
All in all, my purpose on this trip was to be a beach bum, and learn about the world, however, I am quite content for the remainder of the trip to learn about natural disasters through the written word, and not from personal experience.
I am just getting ready to go to bed for what I hope to be will be a quiet night, and as I am finishing up this entry, I just felt another movement. I checked with Cory and Elaine, and they felt it too. It was not my imagination! Oh let’s hope it is a quiet night.
Just thought I would add a quick footnote being that sleep is not coming easily. Try as we might, I guess one of the “aftershocks” is a bit of fear of going to sleep as the question hangs over your head, will it strike again tonight?
Next morning : no earthquake, it was a peaceful night.