Friday, Apr 22, 2016
We had aftershocks during the night. It has been almost a week and the ground continues to be unsteady. The first aftershock was at 10 pm, lasted for about 10 seconds and was large enough to shake the whole house. At 10:20 pm another smaller aftershock happened, then 3 min later another short, short shock. At 11:30 pm a passing sway in the floor was felt as we tried to sleep on the porch.
The farm dogs barked almost all night long. Once the first aftershock hit they began barking and didn’t stop for most of the night. Laying outside like we are creates an eerie feeling when the dogs bark. Is someone coming onto the property? Are more aftershocks coming? Laying in the dark like that allows my mind to play games with the noises beyond the porch. Along with the dogs, traffic was loud and heavy passing by us on the road leaving town. None of us slept much under the porch roof tonight.
Keeper decided to crawl over each person and snort in their faces as daylight emerged, so at 6:10 am, any attempt to continue to sleep was over. We all began getting up, folding the now humid-turned-to-damp sheets and blankets that covered us, and picking up our mattresses and putting them inside the house.
There is a guard at Dos Hemisferios that Don and Donna know. He told Don that his house had fallen during the quake, and that he and his family needed help. So this morning, after we go back into Bahia to check on things regarding the condos, we are going to visit Wilmar’s house across the river just past San Vicente.
When we pulled up to Wilmar’s house we learned his family was staying with friends or other family members that lived down the road. As we approached his house we saw it sitting on stilts, about 4 feet above the ground. The stilt braces in the back were leaning, and the front porch steps had separated from the door threshold by a couple of inches.
This isn’t what I had expected to see by Wilmar’s description. So many houses in Bahia had collapsed and were nothing but a pile of rubble. This wasn’t Wilmar’s case. He invited us inside the house to look at the damage. This is the first time I have been in a local Ecuadorian’s home.
Wilmar was telling us that his house is unsafe and that he and his family could not sleep in it. All of us continued looking at the house, trying to figure out what was needed. His house was still standing. The damage to the house itself was minor. It appeared with some additional supports underneath the house that it could be made safe once again.
Until that can be done, we verified with Wilmar he knew where the aid stations were that are providing food and water. He did know, and he also had shelter to sleep in which was a block from where his house stood. We went and picked up some food and supplies he didn’t have and brought them to him and his family.
Norbert and Glenys stopped at the farm this morning. They are leaving Bahia and going back to Canada. They have been staying in Bahia at a home of a friend. A home that withstood the initial quake, but sits between two large high rises. After last nights strong aftershocks, they are done with living in Bahia right now.
Glenys is suffering from the deaths of her friends, recently falling and significantly hurting herself, and now shook up from the night’s aftershocks. Not just little movements of the ground, but strong after shocks that shook buildings already damaged…and we are almost one week post quake. I don’t blame her for wanting to leave Bahia. I would not feel safe sleeping in Bahia either.
We are going to miss seeing them, Norbert, Glenys, Rylan, and their two pooches. They could be counted on for smiles and laughs (and barks), whether we are passing them on the street, enjoying a get together around the pool, or having dinner in their home. It feels sad for me to see them leave, just more reality of who and what this earthquake has impacted.
We went back to our condo today to get the heart-shaped metal art piece that Heidi’s sister gave her. It was left hanging on the light over the kitchen table, and it was the only thing of ours remaining in the stillness of our once vibrant little condo. Before we left, we went on the balcony and grabbed the plastic table and chairs to take to the farm, the ones we spent so many hours at watching the ocean and sunsets, discussing our plans, and figuring out our future.
Since the earthquake, David our building concierge, stays at the park across the street during the day keeping an eye on the building. He is a good man and has a nice family. As we left our building we walked over to him to say goodbye. I am very sad to leave and potentially not see him again. We all exchanged hugs, took some pictures, and I got his phone number so I can stay in contact.
Back at the farm we all began sorting through our things that we had piled under the thatched roof of the round pavilion behind the farm house.
It’s time to organize our things, move them into storage containers, and make this area our new sleeping quarters. Then we can move from the front porch of the farm house and give Walter his living area back.
We also needed to wash our clothes. There is no washing machine on the farm so we washed clothes by hand in a cistern on the property that is filled with river water. Our potable water cistern is on a conservative use basis only until we can get a truck in to fill it up. The river water cistern is used to water the crops.
We created a washing station with a scrub bucket and a rinse pail. We added laundry soap to the wash bucket, scrubbed our clothes clean by hand, then rinsed them out in another bucket. Who would have thought we would be using a thousands of year old technique to stay clean?
So many questions are running through my head. What need is still required? How can we help with it? How long will we stay here? Help seems to be coming into town on an ongoing basis. The critical situation is passing as local stores and markets open up; the aid stations are available with food, medical care, and some provisions for temporary shelter.
We are beginning to ask ourselves, when do we leave?