7.8 Earthquake Hits the Coast of Ecuador

Portoviejo, got hit the worst.

Portoviejo, got hit the worst.

Just another day in Paradise…until it wasn’t!

The early summer evening was a typical Saturday. We had decided to walk into Crucita to the Genoa Restaurant to have pizza. We walked down our dried mud road holding hands with our heads down,eyes glued on our feet as we carefully took each step, since the road looked like an old-fashion washboard. We were holding hands first because we like to and second to balance each other as we maneuvered the uneven ruts. Along the road we met an Ecuadorian family who stopped us and told us how much he loved seeing us old folks still holding hands. We chuckled as we walked on. We continued on the restaurant to eat. We had just finished our dinner, when I felt shaking under my feet. I asked Leo if he was doing it with his feet, since he gets restless in his legs after sitting a while, but he did not even answer, when the real shake began.

We stood up in an effort to leave, but the shaking did not allow us to move, but we could only hold on to the door jam. A pause in the shaking came and the waitress started pulling us toward the Malecon running along the beach. We just got across the road and the road began to shake. The waitress and we tried to stay upright. The large light poles were like dancing ballerinas bending and swaying in unison. Who knew those concrete poles were so flexible? Finally after 1 minute it stopped. As soon as it stopped, the whole area went dark, like someone had just thrown a gigantic light switch. We were kind of dazed and just stood there motionless and not talking, then we looked around and then thoughts seemed to come. First, thanks to God we were OK, then now what? This was a very scary moment when you realize what had just happened.Leo said let’s walk home. I did not really want to walk down our road in the dark. The hill that runs on the East side of the road is covered with vegetation and who knows what crawls out of there at night and in the dark I would not be able to see much. Well,what choice did I have.

As we walked the 4 blocks to our street, we saw many people heading in the same direction. When we got to our street, everyone was walking in the opposite direction. I asked Leo to ask where they were going. They said to La Loma, the hill to the east beside us. I said, let’s not go home and go straight to La Loma. About then we were at the tall white condos where we saw John and Adine who live there. We asked if they were going to La Loma and they said yes. We asked if we could go along, so we did. We were so thankful to them for taking us, since the reality of me climbing that steep incline was slim to none. We stayed on La Loma for several hours. It was quite crowded there. One car had on his car radio and everyone gathered around to hear the news. The stations were reporting everything they heard without checking, so information changed through time. Leo who can speak Spanish kept us updated on information.

About 11:00 PM we left the hill because it was said that the earthquake was from deep down in the earth, so the chance of a tsunami was not possible. Not sure how reliable that was, but most Ecuadorians stayed on the hill. It was actually quite a sight to see the people coming up the hill on their motorcycles. One guy had an IV hanging from a contraption attached to his bike. Others had double mattresses balanced on their heads as they drove up. It is amazing what you can do when you have to. What was great was that the tuk tuks came up the hill full of people and the fishing trucks that have a huge back end for carrying fish, were full of people, so everyone was being helpful to others.

When we arrived home we were happy to see our two dogs were safe and they were happy to see us. They had been outside in the yard. We looked at the house to see if it was intact, which it was. We entered the house and saw very little problems, just hairline cracks. Of course, closets and drawers were on the floor. We swept up glass and then went to bed. We must have been very tired, because apparently, we has slept through 3 aftershocks according to our neighbors who hit the street for each one.

Communication was horrible so we had no idea what had happened elsewhere, even though we knew Crucita  had not taken the brunt of the destruction. Mostly we were left with the unknown. Would we have electricity, water, internet service, cell phone service anytime in the near future? Services like that are iffy on a good day, what should we expect now?

Portoviejo, 1/2 hour by car, where we shop and go to restaurants.

Portoviejo, 1/2 hour by car, where we shop and go to restaurants.

Families moving possessions to the home of other family members whose house is standing.

Families moving possessions to the home of other family members whose house is standing.

  1. We in Crucita and Las Gilces are very very forntunate – Thank you God for our lives and belongings – Bill and I saw much destruction, and the smell of bodies going from Las Gilces to GYE to catch a flight to Fl. It was a very terrifying experience for me at least – But so very happy that all my friends made it through alive – Will miss you but we did make a flexible return ticket –

    • Thanks for your comments, Audrey. I had heard about the smells. Many bodies in Porto. Enjoy FL, maybe we can see each other in FL in July. Glad you have a ticket back, wasn’t sure you would want one.

  2. Our internet is up again, so will take a moment to comment. We were happy to help you two out that very nerve-racking night. The next three days were worse for me, what with all the uncertainty and no real idea how the rest of Ecuador faired. No electricity, water, internet, elevator (we live on the 6th floor) food starting to spoil in the refrigerator, made for much stress. But people are resourceful and resilient and came together during these tough times. The stories of looting and robberies were very disturbing. Thank goodness we had good people around us. We still feel uncomfortable with any tremor no matter how small, and sometimes feel things that are not really there. But life goes on and we are very grateful Crucita faired as well as it did. Portoviejo was not as lucky. Our hats go off to the military who brought in food and water and helped give a little comfort to the towns people. Electricity came back on so much sooner than we had expected which was such a blessing. May God continue to Bless all of Ecuador and its people during these difficult times. Thankful to be alive.

    • Thanks Adine for sharing. I agree on the electric coming back soon. I was shocked really. We even went to family for a while in Porto and they had electricity, but they live on the outskirts of town. When we came back we saw the food trucks, but distribution was a little unorganized. It will take quite a while to get back to normal.

    • Thanks Real.It was great meeting you and your wife when you were here visiting. Hope I can keep on the ball and keep posting. Glad you missed this big event.

  3. I am so thankful that you and Leo are ok. I shared the little bit of news I had of you with Diana and Winky from CHILD. They were both happy that you were safe. I appreciate the details and I will pass them along. Stay safe! You are in my prayers!

    • Thanks, Nancy. Tell Diana and Winky thanks for their concern. I hope CHILD is doing well. I really enjoyed that way of teaching. What are you doing with them now?

  4. This must have been terrifying Joyce. So glad to hear that you and Leo were OK. We were all thinking about you (on family vacation) and hoping you were OK, when we heard the news of the earthquake!

    • Thanks Marie. I am not too proud to say, we were all very scared and one minute seems like one hour. I was talking to Sean and he said you all had a great time a Disney World and at the place you stayed. How fun to all get together there. We are looking forward to seeing our family in FL. It has been 2 years. Hard to believe! Thanks for writing!

  5. We are so happy that you are safe, and astounded by the ordeal you experienced.

    All is well with us. We would like you to know that the little girl who was all covered in mud on the bank of the Connecticut River by your boat, is now driving.

    Stay safe.

    • Bill and Cathy, Thanks for your kind thoughts. I am glad all is well with you. How is Will? I cannot believe your granddaughter is driving. Where does the time go? Believe it or not, we are still enjoying life here, especially as it gets back to normal a little. Our daughter, Beth, said, “I hope this means you are coming home now”. (Yes, but only for a vacation.) Hi to everyone in CT.

  6. Querida Joyce al leer tu relato recordé cada instante de aquel sábado 16 de abril en el cual me encontraba sola en el departamento, planeando salir a comer con unas amistades, y antes de eso decidí hacer unas cosas en la computadora, cuando de repente me dieron ganas de tomar agua, me acerque a la nevera y fue en ese instante en el cual agarre la jarra de agua cuando siento una sensación extraña en mis pies, cuando logre reacción a los pocos segundos me percate que estaba temblando, pero en mi mente solo paso la idea de que ya iba a pasar, mientras que esperaba parada en el mismo lugar, comienzo a escuchar un sonido tan fuerte y los gritos de las personas en la calle, en ese momento todo se comenzó a mover mucho más fuertes, enseguida decidí meterme debajo del mesón de la cocina el cual es grueso y alto, sentí que debajo de él iba a estar protegida, la tv se calló, el ruido que venía de la calle cada vez se hacía más y más fuerte, era algo realmente impactante, pero por mi cabeza solo pasaba la imagen o la idea de cómo estaría mi hermano, quien se encontraba trabajando solo en una construcción en el aeropuerto, fue realmente desesperante mientras todo temblaba logre llamarlo y al escucharlo gritar AUXILIO AXUILIO, mi desesperación aumento, todo dejo de moverse pero los fuertes ruidos seguían, y llega a mi celular otra llamada de mi hermano quien me decida que ya lo estaban ayudando a llegar al hospital, rápidamente me vestí, Salí del apartamento y mis vecinos me llevaron hasta donde estaba el, fue agobiante verlo lleno de sangre con una venda en la cabeza. Luego que vi que mi hermano se encontraba bien solo con unos cuantos golpes y heridas, fue ahí cuando reaccione a todo lo que estaba pasando, fue en ese instante cuando mire a mi alrededor dentro del hospital y vi tantas personas heridas, gritando, seguía llegando y llegando más personas heridas, no había espacio para atenderlas a todos, pero sin embargo los médicos hicieron un gran esfuerzo. Al Salir de allí junto a mi hermano y vecinos, comenzamos andar por la ciudad y fue cuando vi la cantidad de edificios caídos, personas gritando bajo los escombros, postes de luz caídos, la cuidad a oscuras, personas corriendo, era como estar viendo una película en 4D, todo parecía mentira. Decidí llamar rápido a mis padres a Venezuela, para darles las noticias antes que la vieran por televisión, varias lágrimas lograron salir de mis ojos al escuchar a mis padres. La desesperación aumento a medidas de intentábamos comunicarnos con ustedes pero las líneas ya estaban congestionadas, al rato que logramos hablar con ustedes nos sentimos más tranquilos. Fue una noche muy larga las réplicas se comenzaron a sentir con frecuencia, la tensión de la gente aumentaba, las coberturas empeoraban cada vez más, pasamos la noche despiertos debido a que hasta la más mínima bulla nos despertaba. Al día siguiente entramos al apartamento asustados por miedo a nuevas replicas, toda la casa estaba revuelta, sacamos pocos cosas y salimos. Luego de 15 días hospedados en casa de unas amistades, hemos decidido volver al apartamento y retomar nuestra rutina de vida, no ha sido fácil y sé que nos costara perder el miedo, pero es necesario enfrentarlos. Ya hemos pasados largos ratos en casa limpiando y organizando todo, por instantes sentimos que todo se mueve o que nos mareamos, pero no es más que una respuesta emocional y fisiológica a todo lo vivido. La vida nos da la oportunidad de continuar y debemos aprovecharla. Solo pido a dios que ayude a esas personas que han perdido todo, y a los gobernante de este país para que su gestión por levantar nuevamente esta provincia sea provechosa.

    • Thais, thanks for sharing your experience with the readers. Each of us has our own unique experience and it is good for others to see what was going on in different places. (Thais is my niece from Venezuela. I had a previous blog about her and her brother, Felipe, coming to Ecuador to escape the nonsense in Venezuela. You can get her story translated by google. It does not translate exactly right, but you can see what she is saying.) The thing I am most happy about is that you will be using your Psychology degree to help the people in Manta ( a city an hour away from here) who are suffering from the quake. I love you. Call me after your first day. I want to hear how you are doing in the new job.

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