Until yesterday I had never experienced an earthquake. However, last night I had my very first earthquake experience, and it was a big one. To give a little background information, here is a news article on the quake, and here is a video of it. Guess what? It registered a magnitude of 6.6 on the Richter scale! It originated in Valparaiso which is a coastal town about a 2 hour drive away from Santiago. I was in Santiago at the time and even though the cities are 118km apart, I still felt it hit extremely strong. This is my earthquake story.
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Last night I was on my computer when the house started shaking. I didn’t know if it was going to get stronger or what so I sat under the door frame in between my bedroom and my bathroom and watched the ceiling light sway back and forth. It made me feel dizzy and I was scared that it was going to get bigger and that stuff was going to start crashing to the ground or something.
When I stood up again I realized my butt was soaked! Thankfully it was not because I peed my pants in fear. What happened was that all the water that was in the toilet bowl splashed out onto the floor! I must not have noticed at first because I was a little preoccupied with the fact that my room was basically twerking.
After the quake, (and after changing my pants) I walked up to my host parents’ room and knocked on the door to see if they were okay. When I opened the door, they were both in bed reading as if nothing had happened! They even laughed at me for checking on them since for them, this earthquake was no big deal.
My Chilean host family came downstairs and helped me put towels around the toilet to soak up the water and explained that this earthquake was nothing compared to the M8.8 one that struck in 2010. For me, the M6.6 earthquake I experienced was super scary, so I can’t even imagine one reaching M8.8. I think the most shocking thing about this whole experience was how my Chilean host family, and my Chilean friends didn’t think the quake was big deal at all, but I guess that’s what happens when you feel earthquakes so often.
After everything was cleaned up I texted a bunch of my fellow exchange student friends. Every single one of them had a similar story. They felt the earthquake, freaked out, and all the Chileans they were with thought their reaction was somewhat hilarious. I guess us extranjeros need to toughen up a bit!
Update: For any of you looking to travel somewhere where earthquakes are frequent and you’re a bit worried check the comments section as there are some helpful tips for staying safe during an earthquake. Also make sure to check out this article on Earthquake safety as well.
April is the founder and main author for Just Leaving Footprints. She has written for numerous blogs and publications such as Explore Magazine and Snow Pak. April loves writing about sustainable tourism, and promoting other sustainable travelers on her Facebook Group and Instagram Community, Ladies for Sustainable Travel. Currently, April is living and teaching English in Mexico City with her husband Arturo and they don’t plan on stopping their travels anytime soon.
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