Sunday, December 11, 2011

I Remember the Earthquake

Reuters has reported that Mexico has been hit by another earthquake, measuring 6.7 felt in the capital city of Mexico, D. F. and emanating from the Acapulco area. There several people were killed, but none in the capital.
The report stated that none have been reported since 1985. Then thousands were killed and parts of D. F. were damaged.

That same year of 1985 I was in the capital with two other adult women and 35 high school students of Spanish. Before we left for the educational trip, rumbles had been detected in the very area we'd be visiting, and I reviewed safety measures in case I needed them. Our second night at the Isabel Hotel near Chapultepec Park where we were staying we all went to bed before midnight (except most kids, of course). About 2 a.m. I began feeling an undulation in bed and hearing the tinkle of glass breaking in the bathroom. I had gone to bed with my clothes on that night in fear of a big rumble. Immediately I arose and went down the hall knocking on doors of the students and helping hurry down the narrow stairs those who were up and ready.

 We all gathered in the main lobby, occupying all seats and many on the floor, waiting for the aftershocks. One couple came hurrying down rather late and to our surprise were wrapped in bedsheets. We knew they'd been rumbling long before the actual rumble set in. Remarkedly, the hotel was spared of any serious damage. A plate glass window broke, and nothing more. By the time we returned to our rooms the clock read 4 a.m. By then I recognized we had only half of the student group with us. When we got up the next morning we teachers met the students and discovered those who were staying up all night in each other's rooms stayed right there. It was difficult to judge whether they chose the right decision. I envisioned the upstairs crumbling onto the lobby. But it didn't. I discovered I never became afraid; there were the students' welfare to think of.

The following day we roamed around town, tripping over concrete sidewalks that had broken and protruded upwards, as well as buildings that had moved forward towards the street some few feet. Workers who had managed to return that day were standing near the windows of those misshapen buildings, unaware that their weight could easily weaken further the old buildings.

Fortunately we were not headed further south to Cuernavaca and Acapulco, but remained in the capital for the remainder of five days. We were fortunate that when we were ready to return on the plane, air traffic and motor traffic had been reduced. We returned home but not before everyone in the Jackson, MS area had read the local papers. Twice as many relatives and friends greeted us upon arrival home. It was good to be home.

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