Our Costa Rican Earthquake – September 5, 2012
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Our Costa Rican Earthquake – September 5, 2012

John was inside sitting at our kitchen table when the earthquake started.

Today’s 7.6 earthquake in Costa Rica was my first. My virgin earthquake. I have never in my life experienced anything like it and we were even 95 miles from the epicenter. I’ve always wanted to experience what an earthquake felt like (without dying, getting injured, or watching others die or get injured) and today was my big day. I feel like I should have a very dramatic blow-by-blow of the whole experience and be profoundly affected. Perhaps I’ve been profoundly affected, but I just don’t know it yet. I’m not sure yet if my internal worldview has been altered. It’s only been a few hours since the tremor struck.

I always thought that an earthquake would feel like vibrations; a very low and ominous rumble. Maybe some earthquakes do feel that way. I’m hardly an earthquake expert, after all. Today’s quake, however felt like we were standing on a big table that was being moved by two people across a carpeted room. It was like potluck in a church basement where the old people are working together to clumsily move tables into a line. If I were a spoon or a fork on one of those tables, I would feel a lot like how I felt today standing in my backyard. Like I was going to fall off the edge of the world.

At first, I thought it was wind. I was outside working underneath the metal awning in our backyard and it was

When the earthquake started, I was outside under this blue awning. It shook and twisted and it took me several seconds to make sense of what was going on.

like something violent was shaking it. There’s barely ever any wind here in Tambor, Costa Rica so I thought that this violent torrent was strange. I stopped was I was doing for a moment and looked up. Then, I realized that the cement slab was moving too.

John was working inside at the table.

Lydian was sleeping.

As soon as we realized what was going on, John hurried and got Lydian and they ran out of the house. We all stood outside holding onto each other as the palm trees jostled back and forth and the mountains moved…quietly.

Yes, the mountains moved… I mean, we moved with them but still. There was no wind, the air was completely still, but the trees shook and bent sideways like they do on the windiest days in the Midwest. We bent our knees to stay standing (also like we do in the Midwest when the autumn wind blows). It lasted for a long time, perhaps 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Enough time to contemplate things like the probability of the earth opening up and swallowing us into a hot lava core.

I thought our windows would burst. Or something might fall from the sky (debris?). It wasn’t a near-death experience– just enough to make me contemplate the vicissitude of daily life, but not enough to give me PTSD. The neighbors were only slightly concerned (they’ve experienced lots of earthquakes). This afternoon, as I write this, I have to wear earplugs because our neighbor to the west has soap operas blaring full blast. I suppose turning up the volume on fake drama can help drown out the real stuff. At least two people so far have been confirmed dead as a result of the quake. The news has not yet reached us regarding the extent of injuries or damages in the country.

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Costa Rica Earthquake 2012

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