Communication was still very sketchy. Cell phones worked sometimes, but not much, we used the cell phone internet as a hot spot for our laptop. I could read emails on the laptop and answer them. They would hold until about midnight when they would send using the hotspot.
One morning, I got a Skype call from our son, Sean, who was finally able to get through. We talked a while and he said he would put out a notice on Facebook that we were OK since many people were asking. He let family members know we were OK. That was a relief for us and them.
We had word from home that the electricity was on for one full day, so we decided we could go home. We had heard from a family member’s girlfriend, who works at Supermaxi, that she was going back to work on Thursday and the store would be open. Leo, Maria Laura, and I got a ride to Supermaxi from Gina, a family member. There was a line outside, so I thought it was packed and they let a few in when a few went out, but after about 10 minutes they let us all in, about 30 of us, and no one was in the store. We were the first ones in. Because of lack of communication, very few people knew it was open. We shopped for a while and then we got a call from our painters saying it would be a while until they returned to paint because Gregorio had lost his house and his family was living on the street. Jonny was living with 25 family members together. He said there were many people in Charapoto living on the streets and the food trucks were not stopping there because they were going further north where the epicenter was. We asked him what he needed most, so we shopped again to get him some food.
Then we called, Simon, the cab driver we usually use to take us home. There were few cabs available at this time. Simon had been working during the earthquake and said he was so scared, but he was very lucky that no buildings came down on him in the street. He took us within a few blocks of El Centro where Maria Laura lives and she went home to get clothes since she and her son, Gustavo, are going to her father’s house in Cuenca for a while until things get better in Portoviejo. I took some pictures while we waited. We could only see a very small portion of the destruction where we were because no one could go further.
After Maria Laura came back, we went back to the relative’s house to collect our things minus the mattress and went back to Crucita. Going over that bridge in the daylight was worse, because I could see a big chunk of road missing by the edge and if someone was not careful they could go over into that hole.
It was good to be home especially with electricity. We stopped in to see how everyone was when we got home. We were surprised to see that Teri, Roy’s wife, had taken advantage of Canada’s offer to fly anyone who wanted to go out of the area. She went with another friend, Jillian and her two children to Quito. They are staying there for a while. They are all Canadian and flew in a military transport plane. Her husband, Roy, stayed in their newly built home to make sure it was not vacant and not available to looters. It is hard to explain how difficult it is after the earthquake, especially with the aftershocks. The aftershocks have been mild, but you fear that it may develop into a big one. They said that one of the shocks was a 6.0. This one we went outside for. While we lay in bed, we often feel shaking and when we don’t, I lay there and pray that we do not.
After hearing about the people in Charapoto living on the streets, I spoke with our friend Renate about maybe collecting money to buy food for them. We made a plan and I emailed the expat community here in Crucita to see if they wanted to participate. Three couples said they had families that they were helping and 4 couples besides Renate and Bob and us donated $20 each. We took the $120.00 to Supermaxi Sunday morning and bought food for 6 families. We had Fernando, a local Ecuadorian with us. As we went along the road in Crucita, Fernando was pointing out all the people he happened to know who were pretending to be without homes in order to collect hand-outs. This was very disturbing to me, because if you see what is going on in Porto and other places, you KNOW there are really people who need help and these fakers are making the ones trying to help very cynical. I was very sad and about to go back home and give back the money. Then I thought of the people I knew in Las Gilces who could use help on any given “good” day, so I suggested giving to them, which we did. We also had more food for our painters, Jonny and Gregorio, and their families. After shopping, we went to Renate’s house to package up the food into 6 packages to distribute. Then we went to Las Gilces where we used to live and gave the food to India, our previous caretaker, to Enrique’s family who is a fisherman, and to Mary and Nattie to give to their other family members we know. At least we are sure the food went to people who needed it. When Renate drove us down their street, her eyes popped out of her head, and she was convinced we were in the right place to help.