Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nothing Like an Earthquake to Ruin a Shopping Day!

Yep, now I know, do not go shopping in an area that was all shook up the night before.
Vendors just do not go to work the day after a catastrophe.
The few we did find told horrific stories. One friend had 17 people that he knew die that night, several while running inside their cement house before it fell on top of them. Very sad.
We live less than an hour from Burma where there was a quake of 6.7. That evening I was sitting in my office chit chatting with our teenage daughter. Both our eyes widened as we scanned the room full of objects shaking and we said in unison "EARTHQUAKE!" then jumped up and headed for the front door. I barked orders for everyone to "get outside, NOW!" With kids scrambling for the door in front of me, I grabbed up two little ones by the armpits and made my way onto the porch with them both screaming in terror of the unknown. The wooden stairs to reach the ground shook violently or else my knees wobbling added to it as we crowded down them to get away from the house. The sounds of objects falling onto the wooden floor of the house was encouraging me to move more swiftly. Normally the house has provided us with comfort and safety but in an earthquake it is only a danger. As we reached the ground we were shouting about the corn field that sits next to the house, our best destination, then the earth stopped shaking. We stopped running and sat down on some benches in the front yard and looked back to the house. It looked fine. We were fine too, just a couple of the kids crying. We decided to just stay outside for awhile and breathe. I opened the front gate and moved the family car outside and parked along the road far from the area that the house would land in were it to fall. We did sleep inside that night, all of us fully clothed and ready to run, but it was very common the next day to hear that many people had slept outside with the mosquitoes for fear of the structure coming down on top of them in their sleep. I did leave all the bedroom doors open and made sure the path to the front door was clear. At 6:30 AM a small tremor made me spring to my feet while still in dream state just in time to realize that it had stopped already.
It had not occurred to me that our planned day of shopping on the border would have been better planned to be a later day. It was a ghost town. No miners brought rough stones in for us to look at, not one. We sat at an empty rented desk apparently just to make conversation with the locals. About 90% of the shops and vendors areas were locked up. Ruby Lane had just one vendor. I did manage to find enough goods to pay for the trip but all in all it was a pathetic shopping excursion.
We are, however, humbled by our own good fortune. It is very easy to be thankful just to be alive and have your family safe in such a situation. Our wooden home suffered no damages but the temple just a kilometer away lost a large piece of cement. Several Thai friends commented about how the houses of times past would be better for these times as they were built from bamboo (very flexible compared to cement) and the roof was straw so it would not hurt even if it fell on you in your sleep.
May you all be well and safe, my friends, best regards, Lee

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