3:34 a.m. Feb. 27 — awoken in bed by shaking. I am aware this is an earthquake, but not yet sure I need to be concerned enough not to just go back to sleep.
— Sonia startled from sleep. To me she says excitedly,“Earthquake.”
— “Yes, definitely an earthquake,” I say
— By now shaking increasing in violence and I am not sure the four-story building in which we are on bottom floor won’t collapse. It lasted about three minutes. It is dark, but we move around rooms of the apartment in some of the “fog” of confusion of what is happening. I was in my pajamas and at least put my sandals on. Ceramic tiles on the floor had popped loose, Sonia noticed. By the time we reach the door leading down a few stairs to the outside. I am scared and cannot believe this ediface can take much more of this violence. Diego & Rodrigo, our two adult nephews are up. They had gone to the nearby casino earlier and have only been in bed an hour or so.
— We were told this old apartment complex was the first large apartment complex in Viña del Mar. It occupies the entire block with a large landscaped court yard.
— I want to get out and away from the concrete and brick structure and seek safety in the openness of the courtyards, but Sonia stops me and we huddle under the hefty archway, it still shaking over our heads. Sonia is afraid of the possibility of falling electrical wires, glass, masonary and says that’s what she had been taught to do since childhood here. When we first looked outside, we saw the outside lights spark and electricity was outfor the rest of our stay and darkness ruled except car headlights passing who knows where in the morning.
— “Do you have the keys,” Sonia asked before we went to the archway. “Yes, I said. I had grabbed them and put them in the pocket of my pajamas. I closed the apartment door. The keys matter later proved a problem.
— After the shaking stopped, it was dark and quiet. Discussion turned on what to do next and we were like two blocks from the harbor and how long any tsunami might take to appear. We decided to quickly get dressed, get a coat on and evacuate the area. I had a keychain light that was almost too dim to be useful,but Rodrigo had a much brighter keychain light. Sonia grabbed a bag and put toilet paper inside. At first I put my long Levi’s over my pajamas, but it was a tight fit, so I took them off and left the keys inside the apartment inside the pocket. I still had my Provo house key on the keychain light, but left the apartment keys inside. In my mind, DUH, I had all the keys. The “fog” of shock and confusion.
— So many people were outside on the street and many like us were following tsunami evacuation signs.
— By 4:52 a.m. , more than an hour later, after occasional stops by people with car radios on we had reached higher ground and just sat just north of the Valparaiso Sporting Club in Viña del Mar in front of a gated complex tha thad a loud generator running. We sat with others who were doing the same. Along the way, we heard it had been and 8+ quake with an epicenter near Conception ranging across multiple regions of Chile. After nearly an hour there Sonia talked to someone who was on line on a laptop. And apparently authorities had reported that since the quake had an epicenter toward the Andes and not near the sea that there was no apparent danger of a tsunami.
— Armed with this information, we decided to make our way back to the apartment that we had rented. (More to be added)
© Pat Christian