Right off the bat, I prefer hurricanes. You get ample warning, at least a week. You won't know whether or not the 'cane is going to land on your house until the last 8 or so hours, but that's way better than no warning at all. Which is what we got today.

Poas to my house
At 1:20pm, a big badass earthquake shook the central valley. According to the OVSICORI, the tremor had a magnitude of 6.2 and a depth of 30km with its epicenter 10km east of San Pedro de Poás,
Alajuela, near the Volcán Poás. Um, that's a mere twenty five miles from my house. Click on the picture to view it larger.

There have been over 1000 aftershocks since, intensities ranging from 2 to 4 on the Richtor scale. I'm pretty sure I felt all of them.

Yikes. 10pm: just had another one. I'm jumpy, to say the least. We are sleeping in our clothes tonight. I have a flashlight and a bag packed by the garage door with shoes and my purse in case we have to run outside in the middle of the night. I can't decide if I should pack the sex toys in the bag and carry them out, or leave them inside. Would it be better for someone to find them in the rubble of the house or to find them actually on my dead body when they dig me out from the center of the earth? I'm so nervous I'm having a hard time making decisions.

Today's terramoto [tear-ah-MOW-toe, say it rolling the rrs, eathquake] came so completely out of the blue that several volcanologists along with students from England and their teachers were inside Volcán Poás doing a study when the thing hit. They got out alive. They also reported that the inside of the volcano did not change – that's a good thing.

Tragically, four people have died. By
some miracle, only four.

This video shows some shots of the shakin' goin' on – this is from Teletica Canal 7, they were filming when it hit. You can see how long it lasted. May not seem long to you but when you are riding it, it seems like forever. Good chance to practice your Spanish:

Here are tidbits from news and online forums:

  • La Nacion is updating online. Good pictures, more good practice.
  • "A strong earthquake shook Costa Rica on Thursday, sending frightened residents running into the streets of the capital as windows shattered and walls cracked. Thousands of people ran from homes and shopping centers, frightened by the quake. In the capital, women kneeled to pray in plazas. Others cried."
  • Local TV station Teletica showed broken windows, fallen ceiling panels and cracked walls in Alajuela.
  • Much damage is located in the area of Fraijanes, the village on the
    road from Alajuela to Volcán Poás.
  • Major long term destruction was
    caused on the road between Heredia and Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui,
    specifically between Los Cartagos, before Vara Blanca, and San
  • Several people who were driving on the road near Poás are trapped in
    their cars, including a bus load of people who are near San Miguel of
    Sarapiqui. They cannot continue driving on the road. They will spend the night there…
  • Many visitors to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens are trapped there due to the
    exit roads being blocked to the south (Heredia) and erased to the north (Sarapiqui). Starting Friday morning, 9 Jan, helicopters
    will start airlifting foreign visitors, many of whom missed
    flights home, towards Central Valley emergency posts.
  • Damage to
    the Heredia/Sarapiqui road is of such proportions that passage in a
    near future will be impossible, do to whole sections having virtually
    disappeared. There will probably not be any passage for years to come.
    The Angel factory (they make jams) near Cariblanco has been reduced to
    sitting on an isle without access from any direction.
  • Access from the Central Valley to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens could be possible when obstructions have been cleared.
  • The Dam at Cariblanco has fissures but is considered safe at this time.
  • There have been landslides into the Rio Sarapiqui.
  • Two microbuses have overturned near the Catarata [cah-tah-RAH-tah, waterfall] de La Paz (La Paz Waterfall Gardens); they are not reporting serious injuries.
  • The hotel Jardines de La Cataratas de Poás is reported damaged.
  • La Paz Waterfall Gardens has over 100 tourists trapped there. They are probably more nervous than me.
  • The photos of the waterfall show only MUD flowing over the falls.
  • Several tourists have been injured, but they are saying none seriously. They have been evacuated to San Jose.
  • Several homes and roads are reported fallen and blocked in Vara Blanca.
  • Poas of Alajuela, San Isidro of Heredia, San José, Vara Blanca and Fraijanes are the towns most affected.
  • Route 126 to Sarapiqui is closed.
  • Route 146 to Poas has significant damage.
  • Five bridges are destroyed in Sarapiqui and Bajo de Toro.
  • A bridge over the Rio Cuarto collaped.
  • The bridge at El Angel is gone; the river wiped it out.
  • There are some people trapped in Hotel Monte Azul in Alajuela.
  • Much damage in some buildings in Heredia and Alajuela; houses in Cartago have also collapsed.
  • There was a 4.0 earthquake last Wednesday, January 7, in the same area.
  • Another strong earthquake felt yesterday in El Salvador.
  • The reports right now are that this earthquake was caused by a fault, not the Volcán Poás. Since experts liken Poás to Mount Vesuvius, this is excellent news.
  • They are saying it had an intensity of 6.2 but at the epicenter the damages were as if it was 8. That's like "wind chill factor" in earthquake-speak.
  • Red alert declared by the National Emergency Commission
  • Costa Rica usually has earthquakes during Christmas and Easter week, but because of the absence of high rises, most of the time there are minimum damages. So don't worry: if my single story house disappears into the fault, damages will be minimum.
  • Two Blocks of Avenida Central reserved for pedestrians are closed because of fallen glass and open buildings.

As of now, the National Emergency Commisión is recommending people stock up on water and canned food as well as batteries and flashlight as a preventive measure. They don't mention what to do with your sex toys. I guess if nothing bad happens, I'll have plenty of batteries. Trying to look on the bright side.

So. There hasn't been an aftershock jolt in over an hour. Does that mean anything? I have such an active imagination, I keep thinking I feel things still moving. Like I'm in touch with the center of the earth. Like vertigo on the ground floor. I suppose I should stop worrying about it. Since there's no warning, the number and frequency of aftershocks doesn't mean a darn thing, right? Yeah. Hurricanes are definitely my disaster of choice.

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