The dogs barked around four a.m. Their persistence awoke me, gently. Quieting suddenly, the house began to shake. Not a hysterical shake or a seizing fit, but a deep and distant trepidation lasting for minutes. “It’s your first earthquake baby,” I said as we drifted back to sleep.
Having almost forgotten the quake the following morning, we went to pick up our group of friends and travelers. The hotel manager’s expression betrayed his usually chipper mood. I learned then that the quake had taken place over 600 kilometers north, measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale, and what we felt was just an echo of a natural disaster.
We are personally very much fine. As a precaution due to expected disruptions in commerce in this long and thin country, we are well stocked on provisions and fuel. Our group, coined the Ladies in a Lower Latitude, has settled back on the farm with us, optimistic as we work to help them return to the states.
The quake struck near the country’s second largest city, and its effects were significant in the capital as well. Despite Chile’s economic success, disparity is significant. Very much like New Orleans post-Katrina, this disparity is worn on the country’s sleeve in the aftermath of natural disasters.
After a sluggish reaction – again similar to what happened in New Orleans – the President, Michelle Bachelet, is now sending more significant federal and international resources to the impoverished neighborhoods most ravaged by the quake.
On a continent where countries’ characters are often characterized for their warmth and affability, Chile is also known for its strength. It is a Cinderella success story in spite of a challenging history.
Officials are working to fully restore electricity and water, as well as create temporary housing for the displaced. Isolated and very small incidents of disorder have been contained. Santiago’s subway has been functioning at full capacity for two days. The airport is now up and running through a temporary terminal as they repair the main one. In the internet café down south the mood is light.
Chile will overcome this challenge to be stronger, as will Knowmad Adventures and our partners. As of now, we have no friends or colleagues who have suffered more than material setbacks. We are safe, optimistic, and would like to offer our heartfelt and deep gratitude to everyone who has reached out to us in this difficult time. Most of all we would like to wish strength to everyone who this challenge has affected – we will overcome. Viva Chile para siempre!