I was in my fifth grade class in the middle of a math lesson. I had just propped myself on top of the table while my kids were copying something down. I felt the table shake lightly so I said "está temblando." Tremors are common and somewhat frequent since we are situated on top of the Cocos and Caribbean plate boundaries. A lot of times these tremors go unnoticed, but I tend to feel them since I am not accustomed to them.
Anyways, I thought I felt a tremor so I got off the table and told the kids and that's when it really started. I honestly don't remember what I said, but I got all of the kids out of the classroom and I ran out behind them.
The ground was like jello and people could barely stand. I felt like I was running at a 45 degree angle to the ground. I remember seeing the swing-set swaying as the ground buckled beneath it. It seems like it took me forever to run just that short distance because it was so hard to move with all the movement beneath me, but once I finally stopped I had two crying kids wrapped around my waist who weren't even my students. I was looking at one of the buildings and how it was moving and thinking 'this really is not happening.'
It seemed to last forever, it really did, but within minutes after the quake ended cars rushed into the school and flustered parents bursted out of said cars looking for the students. I'll be honest: I was wishing my momma was there to wrap me in her arms also. I couldn't stop shaking for several hours.
Maybe ten minutes after the quake, a caravan of cars and trucks loaded with people began passing the school. They are coming from the direction of Montezuma and toward Cobano. Someone hangs up a phone and says that Montezuma is now under a tsunami warning. Our school is high enough that we didn't need to be concerned, but it was still quite alarming to me.
Needless to say classes were cancelled for the rest of the day, all the children had gone home and the town was without electricity and water. (We are still without water...) The teachers had a little meeting to survey the damage and discuss the natural disaster and how it was handled. Other teachers were saying that this was the strongest earthquake they had ever felt! That is coming from Costa Rican natives who are somewhat used to quakes--so imagine how strong it felt for me! I did experience one earthquake last year when I was studying in Heredia. It was my first one and was strong at the time (I think a 5 something), but it was nothing compared to this monster!
We have had countless after shocks since yesterday morning. Last night we were all having a candle-light dinner and the table starting shaking. We listened on the radio and that was a 3 something on the richter scale. We all slept in the same room last night and everytime there was a tremor I would gasp and then hear "tranquila Morgan." I don't know who was more scared, me or the 9 year old. Last night was definitely a time where I was very thankful to live with a host family. I kept checking the time and I may have dozed off once or twice. I was shaken awake, though, at 3:07 am. Come to find out, that 3 am "tremor" was more of another earthquake than a tremor because it rang in at a 5.1 on the richter scale.
Just felt another one. I'm still so nervous. Just when you think it's over, there's more. I heard on the news that the tremors could continue for several weeks! Also it is possible that we could have another severe earthquake in this area in the coming month or two. That's not for geologists to decide though. Only God knows.
By the way, I'm at home because the President of Costa Rican cancelled all schools in Cobano and several nearby towns for the rest of the week until all school can be inspected for structural damage. Wouldn't exactly call it a day off though because my Principal has called me 3 times already today. I was supposed to be getting work together for two students who are going out of town. I'm not a complete procrastinator to the point that I hadn't done it. I had their packets ready, but in all of the craziness yesterday, I completely neglected to give them to them.
So against my wishes, I had to venture into town. I was to meet the parents in front of the copy store because they needed to copy a few pages from the textbooks. I also needed to pick up the copies I had sent in on Monday. (Remember, the school doesn't have a copy machine). The copy store always delivers the copies to school for us, and mine were due back yesterday, but clearly that did not happen.
Anyways, I went into the copy shop and I couldn't believe my eyes. The entire ceiling had fallen down and ceiling tiles were everywhere. It made everything so real again.
From watching the news, I learned that yesterday's earthquake was the second strongest that has ever affected Costa Rica. The shocking part is that as strong as the quake was, the damage was relatively minor. Things could have been a whole lot worse.
I think it is tremoring again right now. Or I'm feeling things. I'm honestly not sure.
Here are a few pictures I took after things stopped moving:
|my 5th grade classroom|
|next door in 9th grade|
|two rooms down in first grade|
|portions of the cement wall between us and the neighbors came tumbling down, knocking a tree down too|