Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

We were able to go back into Bahia this morning.

There is a lot of damage to the buildings we pass driving through town on the way to our condos. It is sad to see people’s homes and livelihoods destroyed. Here are a few pics of what I am seeing.20160419_083710



Heidi, Easton, and I went to our building and the rest of our group went to Dos Hemisferios.

David our concierge was at our building, and after big smiles from seeing each other, we told him we were going up to get some things. He didn’t want us to go up there because he was very nervous of any more aftershocks happening. He insisted Heidi stay downstairs, and he went up with Easton and me.

Our building, Torresol

Our building, Torresol

We pulled clothes out of our closets, our dresser drawers, and put them in garbage bags and threw them over our balcony onto the street. Heidi was below and she gathered them up and put them on the sidewalk.

David was visible nervous and kept saying, “Rapido, no mas”. He wanted us out. So we left.

We stood on the sidewalk sorting through our clothes along the street. Like the street people I have seen at home, moving and sorting through their possessions in bags and boxes, so today we find ourselves. Still, as we sort and see what we have, we realize all that is still up there. We didn’t get Easton’s running shoes or his external hard drive. I couldn’t help recognize the absurdity of the situation.

There is still potential for aftershocks but as time is passing the risk of anything serious seems lower. This is what I tell myself anyway. I use this logic to convince myself that I’m not going to die retrieving something that, should I get caught in the building during an aftershock, I would immediately regret being in.20160419_094512

While we were sorting our things on the street, a group of Ecuadorian military walked by and started talking to us. We used our limited Spanish and told them we live in Bahia, and pointed to Torresol. I guess after they deemed us not to be looters, they continued on.

I saw Carlos, who lives around the corner from me. We had a quick conversation and made sure each other’s family was ok. He shared his story: his two small children usually play in a specific area of the house each evening during the same time the quake hit. This night however, the kids were sitting on his lap and his wife’s lap. The wall collapsed onto the area the kids usually would be playing in. It was a happy story and I was glad to hear it.

We took our now filled suitcases and headed over to Dos Hemisferios to help Jim, Miriam, Don and Donna. With the things we all retrieved from our condos, we filled up a trailer and the back of two pick-up trucks. And of course, there was still a lot of things left.

When we got back to the farm we unloaded everything under a large covered structure with a concrete floor. It has a large, finished, natural wood table on it so over the next few days we all can sort our things we stuffed into garbage bags or hurriedly threw into suit cases. Between all of us it is a huge pile of stuff.

Walter is the farm hand working Don and Donna’s farm. He lives here with his wife Sandra and their children. They have two adult sons, one who is married with his own wife and child. They also have a teenage daughter and a younger daughter. They are all Ecuadorian and live together here on the farm. Since we have arrived they have essentially moved into one bedroom of this small two bedroom farmhouse. They are a very giving family.

Walter’s extended family in Bahia lost everything. They live in a poor area on the hill where a lot of damage occurred from the quake. We began a food run to them this afternoon. Easton, myself, Don, and Walter drove through the fields of the farm gathering vegetables and fruit.

We filled a large bag of freshly picked corn, as well as fresh limes which will be used to make juice. Walter grabbed 6 live chickens from the coop to bring for his family. On the way into town we grabbed some melons from a farmer’s stand along the road, and stopped at a tienda in town to buy large bags of rice.

When we arrived the 25+ babies, young children, teenagers, and adults were living on the street in front of their demolished red brick and morter homes. As we unloaded the food the kids all had big smiles on their faces and repeated over and over “muchas gracias”. The adults smiled and were very thankful for the provisions.20160419_165458

While we were there a large aid truck arrived and brought more provisions. We watched each person receive a 1 gallon plastic bag of water, two cans of tuna, a 2 pound bag of rice and a bottle of cooking oil. It didn’t seem like a lot, but it was enough to help for today.

On the farm we live in the heat without AC; we sleep on pads and mattresses on a large front porch; we have running water for showers and cooking; we have a kitchen to cook, plenty of food to eat, and enough water to drink. We live like kings.

Before going back to the farm we went over the bridge to San Vicente. We heard the power was back on and the ATM machines were working. I was able to get money and felt so much better. If things became unpredictable or dangerous I could pay someone to drive me and my family out of Bahia.

Back at the farm we made dinner using a lot of the food we brought from our individual condos. Tonight we cooked rice, shrimp, fish, and made a green salad with tomatoes and onions. Like I said, we are living like kings.

In the evening we all sat together on the front porch and shared the events of our day. We shared our own stories of what we did and saw in town, and also shared the stories told to us by others. It was a time for us to regroup and come together; a time to support each other and make sure we are all doing ok…the porch people: Don, Donna, Jim, Miriam, Dave, Easton, Heidi, and me.