Saturday, Apr 23, 2016
We woke up, and began the morning ritual of clearing our bedding from the front porch. Easton however took some convincing this morning. Although, it seems Keeper and Monte were in full support of his decision.
We spent most of the day sorting through our things here at the farm. It was depressing in some ways. We left the States with 9 suitcases and 3 carry-ons. That is essentially what we still have. We did buy two standing fans for our condo, but we left them. How much can you carry around Ecuador with you?
I liked living in Torresol. It was orderly. All our belongings we brought and had unpacked had been neatly put away. Things in plastic containers were clearly labeled with contents. We didn’t have much, but we knew what we had, and for the most part we used it, or would use it.
Underneath the pavilion at the farm we were sorting again. Packing again. Getting ready to move again. Exhausting.
Heidi, Easton and I went to the mall to get some groceries and use the internet. When we arrived it was twenty minutes to five. The mall closes at 5 pm. We had to be quick. After getting a few groceries and sending a message out to tell our families we are good, we grabbed a cab to H Bar to talk to Henry.
Henry is a retired fireman and has worked with the local bombarderos (fireman) in Bahia, helping to train and prepare them for a disaster such as this. He told us the events of his night during the quake. Needless to say, Henry’s account included some deaths and sad stories. It also included some wins, some people being saved and beating the odds.
The good stories started with this one. After the quake hit, he ran to his house to get his emergency equipment that would be needed in rescue efforts. He lives on the 4th floor of a four story building. His equipment is in an office he has on the first floor. There was a lot of broken concrete on the first floor and he wasn’t able to get into his office through the door. However, there was a large hole in the wall of it. His equipment was on a shelf that had fallen, and the equipment had slid down the shelf and landed next to the hole in the wall. He was able to reach in, pull it out and go out and help those who needed it.
Henry told us that on the night of the earthquake many of the interior walls of the hospital had collapsed. It became necessary to create a make shift hospital outside in the parking lot. This is where all the people in the hospital were taken, and where all the newly arriving injured were brought. On our way out of town that night I saw all this activity and the many people in the parking area waiting for treatment.
I asked Henry if he was going to stay in Bahia and keep his place open. He felt that right now it is important to get locals going back to work, and his plans were to stay open as long as he is able. There is a lot of aid now. Lots of food and water are available for those that need it. The tanqueros (large water trucks) are available for people to fill up their cisterns and barrels.
Henry felt the current problem is politics getting in the way of making what aid is available and distributed where it is needed. In my mind it seems this often becomes the bigger issue than actually having the resources available to give out to those in need. Since the earthquake the local government and the military have already clashed over this issue.
I asked Henry how he was doing with his things at his apartment. He said he hasn’t been in his apartment since the quake, and has no idea what it looks like inside. He may need some help getting things out of it. I offered our help when he needs it.
Dave and Victoria were at H Bar too. They are not sure how long they will stay in Bahia. We found out Linsley is selling all her equipment at Fika’s as well as her apartment belongings, then heading out of Bahia. So many people who were regulars at Fika’s have left. Her business isn’t viable any longer, another dream swallowed up by the earthquake.
Our daily Bahia routine, workouts, Spanish classes, café bars, are all gone. The town is broken and it may be several years until it is a nice place to live in. There is a lot of aid and help now. I wonder what will be needed in 6 weeks? Who will be here? What will the living conditions be like for those who stay?
Of course leaving too early from Bahia is risky too. There have been reports of robberies and looting of vehicles along the roads to Quito and Cuenca, of people fleeing the area and of those bringing aid into it. The military is in Bahia and plans on staying for at least three months. Right now it just calls for calm, deliberate, and informed decisions to be made.