Saturday, November 10, 2012

I felt the earth move under my feet in Guatemala

What is that?  What is happening?  Can you make it stop?  These were the three questions that came nervously out of my mouth last Wednesday while in Guatemala.  Let me set the scene... it was a beautiful fall morning.  The sun was bright and the air was a bit on the cool side.  Jonathan, Becca, and I walked into the orhanage that had a distinct smell that brought back memories from months and years past.  As we walked closer to the children wards we picked up our step a little with excitement as we anticipated seeing the children.  After being greeted by the nurses and other volunteers on the ward we exchanged hugs and pleasant words.  We were eager to see our favorite children without saying anything to the others.  Some of the children have made great strides while other children are becoming more dependent upon the workers, their bodies twisted in ways I can not describe and some have gone on to heaven which is very bittersweet.  Fast forward a few hours, we were all feeding the children their mid-morning bottle and once again exchanging pleasant words to each other.  All the conversations that morning were very upbeat with light laughter in the air.  Bec was over in the older girls ward and Jonathan was seated in the chair feeding a child newer to the orhanage who was a very, very slow feeder.  As I finished feeding one of the little boys I started walking over to the desk to see who else needed to be fed when I felt this uncomfortable shaking.  For a split second I did not think twice about it because at times my sugar goes low and I get a little shaky.  But this was a different type of shaking, because it did not stop.  I looked at Jonathan and muttered out "What is that?" He had a stunned look on his face before he could get a word out of his mouth.  I looked at our friend Lesley and said in a very nervous voice "What is happening?" with nurses running in circles and their conversations loud and anxious.  Lesley replied in her British accent "Its an earthquake. Oh Crap!" The concrete walls were shaking, the tin roof was moving like a wave.  At first the nurses told us to get the kids out of the ward quickly and then they shifted thought and said keep them in place.  I was standing next to Jonathan asking him to "make it stop."  Many thoughts were flashing through my mind: my kids, what if the walls fall on us, how are we going to protect all these helpless children, and what if I die, how will they identify me.  During the course of this flood of thoughts the shaking of the ground intensified and I was freaking out inside.  A few minutes later which seemed like a few hours the shaking stopped.  I was frozen in place as the chatter in the ward became very excitable as the nurses and volunteers were sharing their fears.  The children did not seem bothered nor worried.  Bec proceeded back into our ward with a ghost white face and quivering lips. Bec was expressing her concerns and fears regarding the earthquake.  The rest of the staff were busy talking about the "after shock" which could be worse if and when it happened.  The remaining part of the day was shot for me.  Everywhere we went people were talking about their fears regarding the earthquake.  Furthermore, they were discussing the Red Alert the President placed on Guatemala because of the potential effects of an after shock.  We headed back to the hotel room to notify our family members that we were ok and there was no internet or phone service.  Needless to say, we were able to contact someone who was able to contact my parents regarding our well being.  As I look back on the 7.4 earthquake I realize that some things are completely out of my control and there is not a darn thing I can do about it.  That's not a good feeling! 


Donna said...

Wow, I hadn't heard about the earthquake yet- I am glad that you're all alright and safely home! We had the same feelings when we were in CA last year and there was a 7.6 earthquake. I felt fear like I never imagined because there is such a lack of control (for the aftershocks). So sorry that you had to experience that! It is so odd how those who live around it appear unphased.

Leah Maya Benjamin said...

There was an earthquake while I was living there, and they had had some the year before so very normal for that region but scary when you are inside anything that could crush you. I'm guessing you got home before the second one hit.