Friday, 17 August 2007

"I Feel The Earth Move Under My Feet"

Hotel Shop

I was not expecting to update quite so soon but there is something important that I thought you might like to know.

Yesterday evening we were happily playing UNO in our room (living the high life, eh?) Suddenly the bed started to move. We both looked at each other, thinking the other one was annoyingly joggling but when we looked at each other we didn’t have to say anything at all. We were both scared and knew it wasn’t us. As we sat on the bed, the room started to shunt around, jolting the bed and rumbling ferociously. EARTHQUAKE!!!!

Missbliss said something like, “Do you think we’re having an earthquake?” The answer was rather obvious. We jumped up off the bed and, in the absence of a table, we decided to stand under the doorway of the room (all those years of watching American TV pay off at last). After what felt like 5 minutes (but was more like 15 seconds) the ground became steady again. We were both still shaking for about another 15 minutes, I’m sure there were some aftershocks in there too.

It turned out there were small aftershocks throughout the evening and night but they just felt like being on a wibbly water bed. We ventured out of the room and onto the balcony. The hotel is made up of lots of little wooden huts joined together with balconies and most of the guests had come out of their rooms in various states of undress. Several Aussies said it was a “decent” earthquake. Those also scared made us feel better, and the more seasoned earthquake survivors (as we are now) told us to expect more grumblings.

When we finally stopped shaking, we went down to the bar for a beer to calm ourselves down, and some chocolate cake too for being so brave. Everything just carried on as normal and the entertaining techno dancers had only stopped for a few minutes.

Turns out it was 6.7 on the Richter scale and the epicenter was only 35 miles from us. Jeepers.

We were amazed at how incredibly calm we were in the moment.

Rest assured everything is fine and nothing is damaged. We’re in the best place we can be in an earthquake – high on a hill and in a little wooden hut with minimal debris to fall (but it didn’t of course). Looking back now, it was all rather exciting.

In other news, walking down the street in Honiara is certainly an interesting experience. On our way to the internet café, we saw, among other things, a woman carrying an owl in a cage. Maybe she wants to be Harry Potter?!

Anyway, onto the hospital tomorrow hopefully (if the flight actually exists).

Thanks for all the comments, sorry I can’t reply but time is money, and the connection is so so so slow.


PhD scientist said...

Serious adventure stuff, LM. Didn't know the Solomons was on a fault, or whatever it is. Very impressed by 6.7 on the Richter scale.

BTW, had you only been a year older and started med school in Autumn 2002 rather than 2003 you could have had the "Did the earth move?" experience, though not quite as full-on, in the damp old NW of England:

It is a bloody weird feeling, I do remember that. When the first 2002 one hit the UK I was shaving and distinctly saw the bathroon window "bend" in and out. At first I thought "IRA bomb" then "hangover and/or incipient migraine", and only later did I hear "earthquake".

Based on the (small) ones we had back in 2002, an interesting thing is that you had to be standing, sitting or lying still to notice the smaller tremors. If you were moving about, e.g. walking, you could miss them altogether. I'm sure there's an interesting bit of proprioception in there.

Having said that, 6.7 would probably make you fall over if you were walking...

Cal said...

Jeez, what a scary experience! I'm glad that the pair of you are safe!

Ms-Ellisa said...

Hey, your first earthquake?! :-)
In Greece we get a lot. At least 3-4 a year... Anway, if by any chance it happens again- DON'T go out on the balconi. If you want to get out, get ou the door. NOT on the balconi. It's one of the first earthquake-rules... I hope you don't have to face that again, 6.7 is quite big :-)

PhD scientist said...

Other earthquake rules: don't use the lift (if any); keep a torch close by (for when the lights go out).

Remember these from the time I stayed in a high-rise hotel in Japan. There was a torch in a holder above the bed, complete with "In event of earthquake" instructions.

Hannah said...

Glad you're both safe. I hope the flight leaves ok and you arrive safely.