Monday, December 15, 2008
A Look Back to Seven Months Ago
"One-One Thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, four-one thousand," no, that's not right. That's for lightening. Try again. "Put masking tape on the windows, or board them up, move patio furniture inside. No, that's night right either, that would be a hurricane. Let's see, "Move to an interior room of the house, a bathroom perhaps, best a cellar or basement though." No, that is for a tornado. Alright, how about, "Seek high ground!" Sunami. Nothing seemed just right. No matter where I searched my middle-aged, girl-scout brain, I could not for the life of me, find a file labeled, "What to do in case of a volcanic eruption!" And so it goes...
May 1st, 2008. Futaleu, Region X, Chile.
It is a beautiful big, blue-sky day here in Futa, the surrounding mountains are lacy with snow, and almost nothing is open today...May Day. The internet is closed so we will have to wait until tomorrow to see when we can meet the electrician and pay him a deposit for running electric down to our almost finished house. I find one little home-front store open and buy some smoked ribs and beer. It is amazing to see the rose bushes continuing to push out fresh buds. Each street is dotted with a bush of them every 20 feet or so, red, yellow, pink, white. It has been cold, and we've had a bit of frost already.
Back at our little rental cabin, down by Lago Espejo, Greg is reading about the 2008 Presidential Campaign on the internet, and Max is curled beside him, content in his psycho little dreams. After dinner, I decide to get all the dishes and things washed up (for a change) and we settle in to watch some documentary online. I promise myself that tomorrow I will upload the photos from the big town fiesta celebrating Futa's 79th anniversary and celebrating the Carabineros 60th anniversary. A wonderful parade under a painfully blue sky, cueca dancing, music, honors, and then a sweet, lazy picnic for all the towns inhabitants down by Rio Espolon. I'll do that tomorrow. We stay up way too late, and I fall asleep on the couch with Max curled behind my legs.
Around midnight the cabin "jumps". It doesn't shake, or sway. It felt like some jolly giant picked it up a few inches and dropped it. Veterans of earthquake countries such as Costa Rica and Panama, we said, "Hmm...earthquake," and went back to sleep. Around 2:30 am, on May 2, Mother Earth jumped a couple more times, a little harder now. And that was it, everything was quiet except some rowdy dogs and screeching roosters. I get on the computer, look up earthquakes on the USGS site and find nothing. I go to allchile.net and post about this odd happening, and finally sometime in the early morning hours, I fell back to sleep.
May 2, 2008.
I wake up, and it must be early because it's not yet light out, dawn maybe, the sky is slightly glowing. I get up, and peek out the window, and to my delight, it has snowed! The truck, the ground, the roof of our landlord's little house, everything is covered in a silvery dusting of snow. I am so excited for my first snow in my new land, I pull on my rubber boots, and put my jacket on over my pajamas, grab my camera and run outside. I start taking pictures immediately, but something doesn't feel right. It's not that cold. I reach out and trace my finger on the branch of a little cherry tree. Gritty. Odd. Just then, Bosque, the landlord opens his side door, and in his rapid-fire, high-pitched Spanish chatters something to me, the only thing I catch it "volcan"! He grabs my jacket sleeve and pulls me into his house shakes his finger at me, pointing to a make-shift towel mask covering his face. I see his TV in the other room of his house, upon which is a newscast showing the Chaiten Volcano has erupted. And it is 11:00 am. Volcano? Chaiten has a volcano? Huh? Thus began an odd vignette that still does not seem real.
I come back in the cabin and wake Greg. "YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED!" I scream at him as he leans up on one elbow looking at me with a confused and sleepy stare. He's not sure if I might be referring to something I've just done such as helped a neighbor butcher a sheep, caught a strange, wild animal, or set the kitchen on fire. He can never be sure.
"A VOLCANO BLEW UP AND WE ARE COVERED WITH ASH!"