Well Hello All! So no excuses, I have not posted in a very long time. In fact, I believe this is only my second or third post. Thank God for Amy who consistently keeps all of you informed!!
Well, so lets start back in the fall (Spring here in Chile) when I taught classes. I enjoyed teaching and actually ended up getting to teach adult conversational classes and not just College Students which I found very enjoyable and got a chance to teach practical english useful in the business world. I felt much more confident in doing this as I have been working in business in the U.S. I finished teaching in December and took some intensive Spanish classes for four weeks up until Christmas Eve. While I speak Spanish everyday, I felt like I needed a review of all the mechanics of the language to really make sure I was expressing myself correctly. And taking those classes at Ecela Institute really helped me solidify my speech and writing more.
In January, my parents visited and that was an exciting time as we got to show them Santiago and then travel to Patagonia which has been a goal of mine since graduating college. We went to Torres del Paine Park, one of the most well known natural wonders in the world, where towering peaks stand above the grassland. Glaciers are moving towards the sea and Condors soar thousands of feet above the land scavenging for food. If you have not seen Amy´s pictures from the trip on this blog, go back and look at them.
After my parents came, Mike and Erin Moniz, our good friends, came down to visit. We went camping for several days in Villarica Park where the active Villarica Volcano resides. For four days, we hiked around this mamonth peak enjoying some breathtaking views and walking through some of the most rugged, toughest terrain I have ever encountered: old lava flows, steep decents and difficult uphill switchbacks. We have not posted these pictures but they will follow (some are on facebook).
After Villarica Park, Amy got a chance to visit the U.S. to be with family and friends while I stayed behind preparing for school and working on trying to get an internship working at a local supermarket called Organisk.
And of course as many of you guys know on Febuary 27th, Chile had a massive earthquake that in Santiago was recorded around 8.3 on the rictor scale. I had actually just gone to bed an hour or so beforehand as I had been talking with a good friend from Honduras who I met when I had done mission work there. So I woke up quickly to my bed shaking and quickly realized that I was experiencing a fairly strong earthquake. At first I was not too scared since it didn´t seem that bad, but as the seconds ticked by the earthquake got stronger and was not letting up. I decided to throw on my clothes and head for the door as best I could. However, it dawned on me that I was six floors up in our apartment complex and would never make it down in time if the building was going to colapse so I just sat down in our hallway and curled up to wait for the walls to stop shaking me around like a ping pong ball. I can definitely say I have never been more scared in my life.
Finally the shaking subsided and I grabbed my things and ran down the stairs. The night guard was ushering people outside and asking for us to wait on the streets in case of aftershocks. I stayed on the curb until 6 or 7 in the morning. After watching others go back upstairs and not being able to contact anyone since the cell phone service was down as well as the electricity, I decided to go back in the apartment and try and get some sleep before figuring out what to do next. Around 10:30am, I woke up to my vonage line ringing and answered to hear my worried parents on the other line asking if I was alright. I told them I was, and that it seemed the worst was over. I assumed that power had recently come back on since my parents had been trying to reach me for over 30 minutes without success. I talked briefly with them and quickly called Amy who was quite worried and trying to hold back the tears as she had been trying to find out news on the internet. I told her that I was okay and so was the apartment and later that week received confirmation from an engineer that the building was structurally sound. Very good news indeed!
We continued and actually still continue to have aftershocks, but nothing like that night. Chile has definitely been given a blow especially a few hundred miles South of Santiago in a town called Concepcion much closer to the epicenter. And the worst aspects were the small towns all along the coast that around 6:30am the morning after had a number of tsunamis hit the coast completly wiping these settlements away. After the event, the NY Times said it was the 5th worst earthquake ever recorded closer to the epicenter registering at an 8.8!!! And sadly over 1500 people lost their lives to either the earthquake or the tsunamis. While Santiago seems to have recovered on a large scales, it is a different story in the South where it will take many years for these towns to recover.
Amy was able to return the next week to Santiago, and while we continue to have aftershocks, things are back to normal by and large here where we live. We plan on completing our teaching contracts. We have had a few smaller scares like losing power for a few hours last Sunday night and the week before while visiting the coast with my sister, Megan, running for the hills after the police called for a tsunami alert (the tsunami never came thankfully), but nothing quite as dire and scary as the original quake.
So I will try to better to inform all of you guys of the events here moving forward and post some of the pictures we have from our travels and experiences. I hope all of you are well and look forward to seeing you all when we return!