The number 6

I have always liked the number 6. To me it was a nice gentle number, rounded edges, not too much but enough.

But two 6’s in 9 hours has changed my opinion.  

The first 6  ( a 6.8 aftershock) arrived at 3 AM.  I was sleeping soundly in my bed, to be awoken by the sound of dogs barking, and everything moving.  By the time I really started thinking the shaking was tapering off.  It took a long time to relax enough to get back to sleep. 

The second 6 ( a 6.7) arrived at just before 12 noon.

I was in the main office of the Fundation in Portoviejo. I had been tasked with some website work, trying to get a grip on Drupal ( something I have avoided for years).  I was  working at a table in the corner while a meeting was just getting started in the centre of the room when the 6.7 aftershock started rolling in.

It started small and continued to build. The reactions of the lpeople in the meeting is what I found most telling. One made her way towards the door to move outside, another got on the floor to be protect herself under the desk, two others sat in their chairs waiting it out and one just broke down crying in shear terror. You can tell from their reactions they had done this before…. And they didn’t want to do it again.

After the shaking stopped water was offered to some, others made their way outside, and there were more tears.  These were tears of frustration… enough already.

Outside in the courtyard, the workers of the Fundation ( mostly women) were frantically trying to contact family on their cells, while comforting other staff and patients.  There were nurses checking the blood pressure of patients and some staff members.  I assume the nurses know which staff has heart conditions that need to be monitored.

There were patients in pyjamas and eye patches, there were children running  around  or just standing screaming and crying, the ever present street dogs, and a lot of people panicked and frustrated.  They knew they were safe, but what about their loved ones? Most people had cell phones to their heads or where alternating between dialing and listening, dialing and listening, dialing and listening, dialing and listening.

The cell phone networks were overloaded.  No one could get through to family. ( about 15 minutes later I got a text from the network saying to use SMS and not voice during emergencies) Slowly you could see some people have quick conversations, put their phones away and relax a bit.  Some broke down in tears of joy, and there were a few smiles.

It was a strange set of emotions I went through, fear, frustration, anger ( stop already!!) and a deep sense of loneliness.  It took me a few minutes to understand the loneliness part, there was no one I really needed to contact to say I was OK. It didn’t matter to me if the cell network functioned.

The Fundation closed for the rest of the day, so after waiting about 1/2 an hour to see if I could to be of some use, I walked to the bus terminal.  I turned down several offers of rides, because I needed to clear my head.  All along the route people were in the street.  People do not trust their houses.

So 6 you were once my friend, but I have had enough, I hope I never deal with you again ( or any larger number) and I will be happy with 3… 3 I can deal with.

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