Thursday, January 13, 2011

10 years ago

It's not my intention to write a post every day, but that's the way it's worked this week.

Today I got a reminder. It's January 13th.
In 2001 this date fell on a Saturday. I was at church with a group of people for a training or something. Right around 11:33am we felt the ground move a little. After a few seconds, that felt like hours, it started shaking-- hard. I hadn't experienced that before, at least not that I remembered. Trying to get out of the building and experiencing those few moments is something I will never forget. Trying to walk out and the ground moving me around, moving me back a couple of steps, the benches being lifted from the ground as if they were jumping. And the wall just out the side entrance, moving like it was linens in the wind.
After the ground calmed down everything was still moving inside, just like feeling the waves around your body after a long day of swimming in the sea.
We got out of the building and there was a cloud of dirt behind the volcano. We didn't know it, but many families had just been buried on the other side of the city. Some of them were still alive, underground. Over 1000 lives lost. There are numbers, several numbers.. the number of aftershocks that followed the big quake, the number of casualties, how many landslides, the magnitude of the quake on this scale and on that scale, the number of troops that came from other countries to help, the amount of dollars received in aid, the amount of dollars in aid that didn't reach the victims, the amount of days we were out of school while the building got repaired, the number of trips we made to go help out or deliver food to those left without a home or without a family. So many numbers, but 13... that number came back to us. Exactly a month later there was a second earthquake. I remember exactly where I was that second time, waiting for my dad to pick me and my sister up. We were heading to the American Embassy, to pick up our passports with a brand new tourist visa. If I had to, I could take you to that exact building, to that exact table next to that big glass window where we waited.

The days between the earthquakes on those unforgettable 13's felt like an eternity. They were filled with aftershocks and transformation. We became completely different individuals after those quakes. Life would never be the same and the paths we were following were buried too.

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