What to do? Monday April 25

Andes Moutains

Andes Mountains

I don’t know what to do.

I know that I am sleep deprived which makes making a decision even more difficult.

Here is my dilemma ( this might turn into a winefest)

I can’t teach right now ( the internet is too slow and unreliable).  I can’t get a full night’s sleep, the trees are dropping things on the roof of my cabana which wake me, or worse causes nightmares.  I have been looking for other places to stay within the community but seem to be striking out on all counts.

Realistically I should get out of town.  I have people who would be happy to see me in Southern Ecuador.  So why I haven’t I left?

My head tells me I need to go, to get my teaching business back up and running, my heart tells me I need to stay and be here.

About 2 weeks ago I was looking at a similar question and I came to the conclusion that this is where I wanted to be.  After searching for a place to be, a place where I was happy I think I have found it.  I decided this is where I wanted to stay, to stop traveling and to be. After coming to such an decision, it is difficult for me to uproot and go.

I have usually followed my heart for most of my life, maybe this is the time to follow my head?

If I stay I could document the ongoing rebuilding, but I am a little short on camera equipment for that.  I am using my “studio” camera, but it really isn’t ideal for taking into the field alone.  It is a little too conspicuous.

Another factor that keeps me here is fear. I am safe here, but travel right now is a little suspect.  There are a lot of people who have lost a lot, and traveling with what I need would make me a bit of a target.

So with dilema I am slowing organizing  my stuff so that I can go quickly if that is what I decide.

Any thoughts?

Sunday… 7 days after

Busy beach

Busy beach

The last couple of days have been frustrating.

I dropped my flashlight.  It now doesn’t charge.  I opened it up and I can fix it with a blob of solder and a dash of 5 minute epoxy….it sits unusable

i dropped my iPad… It works but the screen is now cracked.

I was planning on moving, either this weekend or next.  The house was a nice little place tucked away near downtown San Jacinto.  Now it is occupied by the owners, since their house is likely to be torn down.

I had heard about, saw and talked to the owners of a nice house in San Clemente.  We had every thing covered until it came to getting payment to him.  He ( rightly so) doesn’t want me to move in until he gets first and last…. I have no way of doing that. ( actually I could but it would take several trips to neighboring towns to deal with pulling cash and then traveling to other banks to deposit cash. The house is nice but nor worth that level of risk)

There is a house across the street from were I am staying, that might work.  I am still trying to find details.

One of my goals is to try and get back on line for teaching by Thursday…. Not sure if I will make it.

i am still having some trouble sleeping through the night.  The cabana I am in is nice and quiet, but the tree above drops these little nuts that resonate and bounce off the tin roof.

As much as I complain, I know I am really lucky, I am surrounded by great people and I am far better off than some.


Thursday April 21

I got online for a serious amount of time this morning.

I cried

Ecuador and the Province  of Manabi are such special places…struggling with poverty, but making headway.  Last months there were floods, and now this.

The president of Ecuador has been spending massive amount of funds to try and improve schools, roads, healthcare, the electrical grid… and then the price of oil collapsed.  The currency in Ecuador is the US$, which means that an internal monetary policy is difficult… So Ecuador was financially in trouble before, but now…

My heart breaks.

Things will get better here, but I am heartbroken for Portoveijo  it was a hot, busy, bustling city.  It was vibrant, and exciting and now….

Wednesday April 20th

041916-216I had a full nights sleep last night!

Last night I was able to send out a couple of Facebook messages using someone’s android setup as a hot spot.  I was also able to charge my phone, tablet, etc by using a generator..  There is now power to the local transformer station so maybe today?

The night of.

I had just finished eating dinner, and was watching some YouTube… It was just getting dark outside, everything was good for a nice Saturday evening…I had my sandals on (rare I usually take them off and go barefoot) because I was going to go for a walk and get a Popsicle in a little while.

The building started to move.. Just another quake…and then “holy shit” the intensity. Could not stand or walk..
Got to my knees in the door frame of my room
Power goes out
Light from laptop
Large grinding sound (building)
Large smashing and crashing mirror dishes and plates
Crash of gas tank and stove toppling, and my blue water jug

It lasted for 45 seconds I have been told…how long is that? Just think how long that 30 second commercial lasts on tv…

Then it was over.

The sound of the surf.  And darkness.  No lights anywhere around the bay.

My first thought get out of here, second thought, my downstairs neighbor.

Grabbed my windup flashlight, shut down my laptop( save the battery ) put my phones in my pocket, turned off my gas, righted my water jug, and left my apartment.

There was debris everywhere (glass brick concrete) as I moved downstairs.  Picked up my bike that had fallen over, and made my way to Rogers’ door… Pounded…listened, no answer, pounded listened no sound… I couldn’t break through the door with the tools at hand and I wasn’t sure he was in there. Went down the stairs which was littered with broken beer bottles.

Out in the street I went to the gathering of the neighbors, I asked in my bad Spanish about Roger.  They told me he had gone out earlier…ok now time to think…everyone here ok?  One man with a bad ankle , others were looking after him.

Ok time to think…. I need to go back inside… What do I want to get, tablet, laptop, documents, wallet, Chargers for electronics, water… Camera, no it is too bulky and heavy and not important.

Back inside I go, kicking the larger pieces of beer bottles out of the way ( we used to keep a couple of empty bottles at the top of the stairs…that way if you wanted a beer you had an empty to take, when you bought your cold one.)   Past my bike, over the bricks and concrete into my apartment

Looking around ( I never did take pictures) I saw broken glass from the big mirror, water from my water jug, mixing with tea that had been in a glass jar.  I went into my room, and started picking up and unplugging wires and chargers and stuffing them in my backpack.  I put in my documents, laptop and a few other odds and ends, and quickly got out.  I kept glancing at the ocean, and there where no signs of a tsunami ( the water rushes way out before it rushes in)

Back on the street I walk around a bit, saw some buildings that had been damaged.  People were piling into the back of trucks and leaving town… Concern about Tsunami.

A friend had told me that the gathering place in San Clemente was the Cemetery… It is high flat ground.  I had checked it out in the past, and I didn’t want to get in a truck full of strangers, so how to get there?  

Back into the building to get my bike.

I went up to the third floor to get a broom that I used to clean the glass off of the stairs so I could take my bike from the second floor to the ground without destroying my tires.

About this time after getting my bike out, my phone rang.  My friend Gerri was calling to check on me, she was fine, her house was fine, her dog was ok.  She was with some other people and they were heading out.  I don’t know where and she didn’t say.

By this point I didn’t expect a tsunami….. If it was going to come it would have been there by then.  My concern was aftershocks.  

Bike ride in the dark…. Stopping to recharge ( hand crank) my flashlight.. Flashlight is a wind up one bought years ago at Canadian tire.  I have used it many times and I am very glad it still works.

No one was at the cemetery, and it was starting to rain… Where to go… I had thought about this in the past…. Gerri’s house, built strong by a builder I knew and trusted, open third floor if the water came, covered front porch out of the rain. So that is where I spent the night. Out of the rain, in the moonlight listening closely to the ocean.

 Waking and moving quickly into the yard and the rain after the aftershocks.

 I slept a few hours.

Now on Wednesday I am starting to make longer term plans.

I have very limited funds.  I usually keep a small reserve of cash, but I had used it to pay first and last on a new place to live.  The person who was arranging this is out of town so I have no idea as to what is happening. When I go past the house, it and the yard are full of people sleeping on mattresses on the ground, under sheets of plastic. I don’t think I will be moving in there.

I have money in several accounts, just no way to access the funds. Once the ATM is back online I will be happier.

Decision tree.

Can I stay where I am.  Short term yes ( safe and sound). Long term no ( mosquitos , my thinking methods do not correspond with the owners)

Move into “new” casa… Assuming it is still ok, this is my desired goal but it requires power and net.  This is still a big ? ( update: the owners now do not want to rent it. They and several other families are now living in it)

Go to Loja.  Need cash, this seems to be the best short/ medium term plan, but there are problems with logistics.

Plan for today… Reorganize my stuff, what to take to Loja (or Zamora) and what to leave here on the coast.     

I may go and take some photos as well….

Tuesday April 19

041916-254Not much sleep last night.  At around 11:45 I woke up to the sound of many vehicles and horns sounding. I was just thinking about getting up when my name was being shouted…. I said wait a minute, and the response was ” NO TEMPO, RAPEEDO TSUNAMIS  “.  I sleep with phones, shoes, and clothes close in case I have to bug out….grabbed some things and ran out the door into the darkness.

We went to the gathering place in front of the local store, the car was loaded, I jumped into the back of a old pickup ( which I suspected would not go up any hill). I expected to leave immediately, but we sat there while some people talked on their phones.

Then the truck moved, we backed into the compound where I am staying.  I still did not understand, why we were not going as many others were.  I was guided back to my room to get a backpack with documents and important things.. I grabbed a few things and stumbled through the moonlit night back to the truck, where I was given a long sharp knife.

It seems like the tsunami warning was a false alarm and the people around me suspected that it was caused by robbers who wanted the town empty so they could pillage it… Stood guard for a while… It was a beautiful full moon. At about 3 the women and children went off to bed,and about 5 minutes later I did as well.  As I write this I have no idea about what happened.

The sun is up and it looks,like another hot day….

Monday April 18

041916-020I am writing this as email to myself since I don’t have word process on my iPad.

These are notes that I may compile into something… or post on my blog

I was trying to help fix a generator today, and I was wondering what a part did….. Normally I would google it. Tough to do without net access.

I went to my old apartment to put everything together for the final move….it looks like everything is stable… Maybe a few more bricks had fallen.  I took my sandals off to climb up on the bed to cut down my mosquito net… Started walking around in my bare feet… Started screaming at myself about being stupid…the floor still has broken glass all over…   

There was an aftershock while I was there… Fuck,I don’t know which is worse, the quake or the aftershocks…one was unexpected the others fill me full of dread.   I have one more trip to make to the old place.   I am going to get a car and a few people and do it quickly and finally.

The stuff that if left there is things I would like to have, but don’t need.  If the building comes down between now and getting it than so be it….

I haven’t been taking picture cause I have been too busy taking care of me… I also think I have picked up a mild case of sunstroke… I have one more visit to the apartment to get stuff, and then I think I will calm down.  Knowing I have to go back into the building once more doesn’t make me happy…

I have succeeded in moving all of my stuff out of the old apartment. The guy who helped me move was amazed at the damage…. I am not sure why, because there are so many other building that are partially or completely damaged.

The day after the quake I saw some people “looting” a building that had been flattened.  This was a brand new building which, I have been told, had sold 3 days earlier for 140,000….. One of the highest prices in the area.  The house is now rubble.  It pancaked. There was no one living there at the time.    Anyway I saw some people going through the wreckage pulling out any useful bits.    Another building under construction also pancaked in el centro.  The municipality has come in and finished the demolition and is carting off all the rubble.  I guess that it is better for people to take bits and pieces instead of it turning into landfill.  

I am now staying in a small cottage up the road ( up being a very important word)  It is small, quaint and on the ground, not up in the air.

My new landlord has gotten a generator working, so now I can recharge all my devices… It also means we have water.  I am still being careful with my usage, but with the heat, 3 or 4 showers a day are the norm.  I miss the sea breeze of my old place.  I Tomorrow I am going to see about getting one of the fridges hooked up.

I also tried sending a few text messages, but I am not sure if they got through… There have been no responses.  A lot of time I don’t get a signal on my phone…I am not sure how the cell towers get power….

The day the Earth moved

On march 11th 2011 the earth shifted off the coast of Japan and  more then 20,000 people lost their lives.

It was possible that I might have been one of them.

I was living in Tokyo with a friend.  He was just starting a relationship, and he wanted the apartment for himself for some time and I was planning a trip.  My choices of destinations where the pacific coast north of Tokyo, or the mountains near Nagano to photograph snow monkeys.  I wanted to visit the sea, but I had promised my nephew’s partner I would get some snow monkey pictures for her.

So instead of being on the effected sea coast when the fault slipped and a wall of water came racing for the coast of Japan, I was very many miles from the sea.

The earthquake itself was a surreal experience for me.  I was alone in the woods, on a road that was closed for the winter.   It was the most alone I had been in Japan, and I was enjoying the solitude when the mountains around my started moaning and groaning.  I was unaware of what was happening.

When I returned to my hotel, my normally jovial hosts looked very solemn.  Through their broken English they said their had been an quake.  I remember their children where watching TV, and when it started to show pictures of the tsunami, they turned it off.

I really had no idea of what was happening, until I started the Internet in my room.  After sending an email to my parents letting them know I was alright, I tried contacting friends in Tokyo.

I had to stay an extra day in the hotel, the trains were not running.

The Tokyo I returned to was not the city I had left.  The earthquake and tsunami had knocked out so many electrical stations that there were power shortages.  Tokyo is illuminated by billboards and signs…these were turned off.  Tokyo was a dark city.

And there was the fear. For the next month there were, on average 2 or 3 quakes a day. ( for an idea of what was happening go to http://www.japanquakemap.com/ click on since march 11 at the top and let it run for a few minutes……)

As bad as the disaster was, everyone was concerned about the nuclear problems developing up the coast.  Everyone I talked to asked the same question…what are you going to do?

Some of my friends left Japan, some moved further south.  I stayed in Tokyo, spending most of my time huddled under blankets,( we had electric heat) reading all I could find on the Internet. I now know more about Japanese nuclear plants, and how they work then I ever thought I would need to know.

I had a bag packed, and my route(s) planned if I had to move but I felt the best place for me was where I was.

There were times I almost left ( Tokyo, not Japan) but I didn’t.

So what did I learn from this?

I have a deeper respect for the Japanese beliefs and culture.

I have a deeper distrust of the media.

I have a greater application of the power of the Internet.

And I have a better understanding of who I am.

here are some blog posts from this period.

Earthquake March 11

Why am I still here March 14

Today Wednesday Evening march 16

Taking Stock March 17th

Mercy or Art imitating life..march 15

mercy part 2 march 28th

ok what’s next..march 24th


Only in Japan?

I was talking to a lady from Brazil today.

She was telling me the story about a Brazilian footballer who is playing in Japan

He was eating in a restaurant when the earthquake hit, and he ran out of the building, along with the other patrons, without paying his bill.

He felt that he needed to settle up his bill, so he went back the next day, only to find a line up of other patrons who had left, doing the same.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad.

Today- Wednesday Evening

I just thought I would list some random thoughts about what is going on.

First, my personal safety.

I do not believe I am in danger.

This is because:

I have been following the nuke issues by reading science based reporting, not advertising based fear mongering ( fucking media is so pissing me off).

Even though I believe in my safety, I have still done risk assessment and am acting accordingly.

I am in a building that has survived many quakes..it shakes..it moves… it rattles but it is kinda like the old game “weebles wobble but they don’t fall down”

I have food, shelter water and heat.

If things get really bad ( nuke wise) my escape route does not include flying.  Narita airport is too close to the nukes, and the flight plan would be down wind.  I will go west and south by train.

I have my stuff ( phone, pocket router, ipad, computer) charged at all times.

I do not leave the house without most of my devices that I consider essential ( see above list) plus passport…I do not need to come back here if I am out and I need to move quickly.

I have a meet up location with friends if needed.

So I am safe.

I do feel really bad for the people who are really effected, and the fact the media is concentrating on the nukes ( which is an issue) and not the real story.

The people of Tokyo are very sad and afraid.

They have been taught all their lives to be prepared and fear Earthquakes.
They have a deep distrust of the government.. they don’t lie, but they don’t tell the truth.
They have a deep distrust of TEPCO ( owners of the nukes)… they have been shown in the past to cover things up.
All their lives they are reminded of the bad side of nukes… there are still people alive who experienced it first hand.
They feel sorry for their countrymen, but they are can’t morn because they have to deal with their own ongoing safety and fear.

Looking back on my life, I have survived ice storms, blackouts, winter storm, summer storms, hurricanes…  I will survive this as well.