Is this an EARTHQUAKE??

"Is this an earthquake?" my husband shouts from the other room in our hotel.  I am sitting on the bed with my oldest son and realize I was just about to remind him how I dislike the foot shaking greatly, as it rocks the whole bed, when I looked over to see him totally still yet we were both still shaking.  "Yeah, I think so", I shout back.

It was not a rough, jarring feeling but rather a wave type motion.  We all sort of sat and let it soak in for about 90 seconds, which is quite long for an earthquake.

We lived in Central America for 5 years and actually got quite used to earthquakes.  We even became able to predict the intensity and whether they were vertical (jarring) or horizontal (wavy) to a certain degree of accuracy after having felt so many.  We immediately knew this was a big earthquake but that it must be far away from where we were.  We bantered back and forth trying to guess the intensity, all of us coming in at over 8.0, and we knew it was horizontal.

I got online right away seeking out an answer and started to worry at what I saw.  The quake and ensuing tsunami in 2004 that killed over 230,000 people was in this very same area, off the West coast of Sumatra, Indonesia (roughly 450 miles from our location).  Thoughts of watching the footage from that day started swirling around in my head as I kept hoping that this would not be the case here today.

A lot of lessons learned since 2004
It was interesting to see that it really wasn't being immediately covered. In fact, the first report of it on Yahoo was a full hour after the actual quake.  As it turned out, it was a mega 8.9, then downgraded to an 8.7.  Tsunami warnings for a huge portion of area began which triggered several evacuations.  I tried to connect with all the coastal area friends we have in the area to see that they were okay.  So far so good was the response.

As we waited to see what would happen we started explaining the process of earthquakes and tsunamis with the kids, learning is so much more interactive when it is relevant, and this surely was.  Then our chats turned to what we should do in the event that disaster strikes while we are traveling.   It was something that we really haven't considered much during our 5-month backpacking journey.

I think it is probably wise to know where the hospital is, where the bus station is, and where to get a taxi most easily.  Whenever we get to a new place, I will now be sure I am relatively aware of where these 3 things are.  People are so helpful around the world, particularly when you are struggling with something, but feeling competent especially if in a country where many people do not speak English would certainly be a benefit in any emergency.

We're happy that this mega-quake did not cause the devastation of the 2004 quake.  We were also somewhat encouraged that our "sense" of the earthquake was rather accurate.  And, finally, it has made us mindful of having a plan to deal with unforeseen events during our travels.

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