It’s Saturday afternoon and Mick, Steve and I are sitting at a bar in Santa Cruz making the most of the 2 for 1 happy hour. We are celebrating Steve’s arrival to Galapagos after a 40 hour trip from Australia that resulted in his bags not arriving with him. Suddenly my phone starts to ring and my father’s scared voice is at the other end asking if we are ok. Yes we are fine, what’s happening? There has been a strong tremor but you’re mum and I are fine, be careful and alert are his next words.
The hours pass by and we hear more news about not the tremor but the 7.8 earthquake that has hit a few coastal towns in Ecuador. There is an alert for a tsunami but we don’t hear any sirens or warnings so we proceed to have dinner.
On our way back to the boat, I asked the water taxi driver if he knows about the tsunami alert and he said it’s been cancelled, but we can’t help to notice that we are one of the few boats left in the anchorage. We are super tired, should we lift anchor and follow the others? No, instead we turned the vhf radio and keep monitoring messages from Port Authority and after an hour they let everyone back at the anchorage and we are glad we decided not to move and stay put.
The next morning we went to the immigration office. It’s our time to check out from the country as the next island we are visiting, Isabela, has no immigration office. It’s Sunday and we are legally no longer in Ecuador, we have a trip planned, food bought but our heart with all the people devastated by the terrible earthquake. We need to start focusing on what’s left on the list of things to do before we go, but instead keep checking on how the rescue efforts are going and the death toll rising.
Natural disasters always come as a surprise, no one can predict them, no one can do much about them. The sad thing is when lives are lost unnecessary, and when you notice the differences that can happen in countries like Ecuador, where constructions are not well preserved or building regulations aren’t followed as strictly, making buildings collapse more easily or bridges fall down.
It’s been hard enough to see the country go through so much over the last two years we have been around, all the taxes, the restrictions and unfair new rules and regulations, and now to see it go through this, knowing that the government is broke and won’t have the money to pay for all the help that all the people will need.
But there is always hope and people are coming together. The solidarity and compassion always shines through. We’ve read of countries like Venezuela sending some help. Mexican rescue workers are flying over to help with finding more victims and all around Ecuador people are putting together donations to send to the affected areas.
I wish I could be there to help. But as an irony of life, although I’m still on Ecuadorian ground, I’ve checked out of the country and it’s time to continue on our journey. Tomorrow we sail to Isabela where we’ll spend three days and we are thinking of starting our passage of 3000 nautical miles to the Marquesas this Saturday.
All we can do now is send our thoughts and prayers to all the families affected by this terrible earthquake, all the people that have lost loved ones or that are still trying to find a daughter or a husband. We send strength to all the people that have lost their houses and possessions and we urge people to stay calm and safe and to come together to help. We give thanks to all the many volunteers who are working hard on providing food and medicines and that are at the affected areas giving a hand to find more survivals. We can overcome anything by coming together and staying strong.