Monday, Apr 25, 2016
We made a big breakfast this morning…oatmeal, eggs, bacon, and Heidi’s homemade bread. We certainly aren’t starving while living out of a suitcase on the front porch of the farm.
I enjoy breakfast time because we all get to touch base with each other and visit before the craziness of the day begins. I am getting tired though. Today is day 9 post quake and I am ready to find a permanent place to settle down and catch my breath.
I’m happy we can go to Cuenca. It will be a new experience and not be anything like we have experienced theses last 4 months. Still, I am sad. I have come to love Bahia.
I love the routine I had..coffee in the morning, reading on the balcony listening to the ocean and watching the waves roll in. Working out with our boot camp group, a friendly bunch of locals who I could suffer with as Henry pushed us more than my body liked. Walking to the market, buying fresh fruits and vegetables, grabbing some fresh cheese and eggs to make our breakfast. Carrying my notebook with me through town as Easton and I made our way to Spanish class. All of these things I am sad to leave.
I will miss our hangouts for coffee and food. Visiting Linsley at Fika’s, enjoying her Banana Oat pancakes and a hot latte. Going to H Bar for a killer veggie sandwich and iced coffee specially made by Dave and Victoria, followed by a cold draft beer with Henry. Places I felt welcomed, places I enjoyed, and people I enjoyed being with are all things I will miss.
So many people have lost everything they have. Many lost loved ones, family and friends. I still have everything…my family especially, although caught in the middle of the great shaking we all emerged unharmed. In that light I have nothing to be sad about.
This experience has shown me that attachments to things or routines is unnecessary. They get in the way of truly experiencing what is here, what is happening now. Being grateful for each moment is a great opportunity and a gift for all of us. I am thankful for the many great moments I have experienced since arriving in Bahia.
For the last 9 days, in addition to my wife and son, I have resided with six amazing friends who have been like family. Plus I’ve been able to know the wonderful family who lives here and has graciously given us the use of their home, while we take care of business to move to our next adventure. For all its chaos, this has also been a special period of time connecting with other human beings.
It will be a long while for me to process everything I have experienced. Now however it’s time to go back into Bahia and help Don do some things to prepare his condos for rebuilds that will be starting in a few weeks. As we are getting ready to leave, Walter and his son are getting the farm truck ready to be towed for repair.
They are using a bamboo pole as the “chain” and securing it with rope to the vehicles. This ultimately doesn’t hold even before they get off the farm property, which is a good thing because if it had broke loose on the road it could have been a serious problem. And this is life in Ecuador.
On our way into town we passed a park that has a sign hanging on a pole. Translated it simple states: Refuge Park for Shelter. In it are many people with tents and coverings, trying to create a home. Many people are displaced and will be I am afraid for a long while.
When we arrived at Dos, our friend Steve was moving furniture out of the condo he rents to Jim and Bev. We all helped him do that, and then helped Don and Donna move things in their condos to prep for the interior structural repairs that will be needed.
In the last few days I have helped many people carry things out of their condos. Going up and down stairs tens of times, amounting to hundreds of stairs, and still, I think I am more mentally fatigued than physically at this point. It is hard to watch lives upended as witnessed by belongings damaged and destroyed, and things left behind because no time to exit in an orderly manner.
Take what you can fit in a suitcase, maybe sell what you can for next to nothing, the clock is ticking and you have to go. A beautiful painting hanging on the wall, favorite clothes left folded in a dresser drawer, broken this and broken that scattered on the floor, it’s time to go. Such is the aftermath of this disaster.
While we were helping at Dos, I walked over to the area where Heidi and I stood during the earthquake. Surprisingly it looked pretty good for what happened. There are some blown out windows and broken floor tiles, but the ceiling is in tact, the supporting pillars are un-phased, and even though we thought we were going to die, we were in a safe place. I’m so grateful for that. As I stand here and remember that evening, my mind questions my memories asking, “Did this really happen?”
After helping at the condos, Heidi and I headed over to Henry’s to have a cold beer. On our walk over we passed a man driving a Tricicle (Tricycle) used to give rides to people around Bahia. We had always wanted to ride in one and up until now never did. Since this would be our last opportunity we hopped on and let him take us to Henry’s. Another example of how we think we have all the time we want to do something, and in reality the only time we truly have is this moment.
Henry is cleaning and moving things in his bar, getting them out of harms way. The back few feet of the floor in his bar has cracked and tilted toward the river. He has a generator running which is keeping his draught beer cold. There is a heavy glass beer mug sitting on the bar next to the taps…drop what you can in it for the beer you drink. It is all self service today.
I am growing weary. The immediate crisis is over. The cleanup remains. Weeks into months I am certain before any semblance of normalcy abounds. I see Luis, our friend from our bootcamp group, he’s helping Henry. Always a smile on his face, always welcoming and helping others. He is one of the good ones. I’m going to miss him.
I ended up needing to run and grab an item from the store, so I jumped in a cab. It was just me and the cab driver. I asked him if all of his family was ok? He told me his son and all of his son’s family died in the quake. They lived in Pedernales, where the epicenter was. All I could say was Lo siento (I’m sorry). As this man drove me in his cab I realized life continues to move forward, even for those who lost so much.
We met up with Maik and Kathy in the mall. They confirmed our travel to Cuenca at 9 am Wednesday morning. What a blessing these two have been for us arranging our transportation out of Bahia. They have also been working tirelessly helping local families with food and shelter needs since the earthquake hit.
Since we now have wifi at the mall, Heidi was able to make us reservations at the Otorongo Apts for a week. This gives us a place to land when arriving in Cuenca and a few days to start looking for a permanent place to live.
We caught a cab back to the farm, but not before getting a chocolate cake from the bakery at the mall. Tonight we will enjoy dessert after our dinner. Our time together, the 8 expats, with the 8 family members is coming to an end.
Day after tomorrow our new life in Cuenca will begin. We will soon say good bye, for now, to Bahia.