We were lucky. There were paradises that turned to hell. Here, just glass on the floor, a crooked door, a night out on the road.
There is fear. Of other earthquakes that these huts may not withstand. Of a giant wave and the sea at our doorstep. There are the sudden wakeups. A bed that moves, maybe in dreams, maybe for real. The body no longer distinguishes if it shakes on its own or with the earth.
But we were lucky. So lucky. There were paradises that turned to hell.
Here, the crabs snoop with curious eyes while the sun forgets the earth is moving and beautifully sets in golden water, as if it was any other day. Here, the neighbors get together. The electricity of the ones that have generators is exchanged for the food we cook together. There’s the sound of laughs, and the same story told over and over again, each time with new details. We share beers, looking for a normality that does not exist. We share accomplice glances, nods that ask, “Are we still okay?”
We are. Even if the ground doesn’t stop shaking. Even if between cutting a tomato and turning on the stove we have to run outside because everything is moving again and our hearts are back in our throats. Even if our eyes remain on the ocean, vigilant. Even if the lookout for bird sounds, for signs, is constant. Even if there are emergency backpacks at the doors of our rooms. Even if the nights are spent with eyes half open. We are okay.
There were paradises that turned to hell. We were lucky. So lucky.
I wrote these words in the days following the earthquake that destroyed most of Ecuador’s northern coast. “Here” is Mompiche, very close to the epicenter, but very little affected in comparison with the massive destruction of other places. When I wrote this, I was still at Cabañas del Mar on the beach about 3km from town. The same place I was the night of the earthquake. A week and a half had passed, the earth hadn’t moved in four days, and we finally had light. It shook again the night before I left, day fifteen after the first one.
Filipa is a Portuguese writer and travel leader for the travel agency Nomad. She loves the world, but has a soft spot for Latin America and the Argentinian accent in particular. You can find her traveling, volunteering on sustainable projects, and searching for stories about people and places that inspire change (or dancing in the nearest salsa club). Her blog shares her thoughts from the road.