It May Have Been 7.6...But It SO Felt like 7.9
My First Earthquake in Nicoya Morning. Felipe is visiting. It’s a truly beautiful day with clear skies and gorgeous light streaming in. I’m in the kitchen cleaning up after breakfast when it hit. Our house is built on incredibly solid ground — a solid mountain of rock, really — yet everything was moving in different directions at the same time. Loud. Furniture dancing on the floor. It’s like an amusement park ride, and it’s my first time and I have no idea where it’s going to take me.
Felipe calls out that we have to get outside. As usual in extraordinary situations, I’m slow to respond because I don’t quite get what’s happening. He insists, I follow him out. I remember the dog, and go back to grab her.
The little dog in my arms has a heart that’s practically pounding out of her chest. Her hackles are up. We are all standing together in the yard — in the open . Felipe has his arm around me holding on tightly. I have my arms around Mariposa. Harry comes in and puts his arm around all of us (for fun). The earth keeps moving beneath us. The sun shines fiercely. It’s loud.
Apparently it went on for 30 seconds, it seemed like minutes … and minutes. I guess it’s that thing of adrenaline. Each nanosecond is recorded, no, burned into your consciousness. Time stretches as you marvel at every detail of your present condition.
I have to admit, it felt totally cool. I loved it. I thrilled to it. It was nothing but awesome … until I started to worry, “what if it got worse?” And in the very moment I started to imagine the earth opening up, to imagine more than toiletries falling to the ground, to visualize something like fire and brimstone, it stopped. Just like that.
We went over to the cars (away from the house) and turned on the only radio we had, the one in Felipe’s car, and listened as the reports came in. Breathless reports. Excited people calling in. Plenty of adrenaline to go around. Was it 7.9 as predicted, or 7.6? Are the roads affected? Did the peninsula really rise three feet?
Once we went inside again, I could survey the damage. It was funny seeing everything that was once on shelves strewn all over the floor. Like dozens of Kamikaze products, all plummeted to their death in some obscure, unknown, passionate cause. Lemmings leaping into the sea. Mysterious and inexplicable. Even as we too experienced the Terramoto together. The cracks in the walls are another story. Very real and something (yet another thing) that needs to be repaired. Not much was lost. The coffee container (glass), a small bottle of sesame oil (alas) and one precious heirloomy thing – a sweet little salt shaker, a gift from my friend Alison.
But how remarkable — how comforting and satisfying, how “Thank God” — to see the house still stands. Stands and withstands. We were told, now we know for certain. Thank you God. For this and plenty else I am grateful for your generosity. Whoever, whatever and wherever you may be, thanks. And thanks to the friends and family who checked in. It was such a vibrant experience to hear your voices, read your messages, to connect with you. Thanks from our spot on the mountain, overlooking the gulf, in the small rural town of Copal.
Originally published September 9, 2012