Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Birthday Pork and Earthquake in Chile

The Birthday
Well that was a crazy weekend.

Pavel, Emma (our niece), and I got into the car Friday morning for a ten-hour drive to Laytonville, a small California town about halfway between Eureka and Santa Rosa.  A whirlwind trip—we were going to surprise my brother on his 50th birthday, but would return on Saturday. Yep. The next day.

Crazy.  But we managed.  We got down, surprised my brother, and enjoyed an afternoon and evening of serious meat eating.  They’d butchered a Duroc pig the day before.  While it roasted in a ‘Cajun microwave’ Friday morning, they slaughtered a lamb.  Four wild turkeys made the mistake of wandering by.  A woman at the party, with a thick Louisiana accent, told us how she’d called to her husband: “Baby, go get me a turkey!”  He ran to their upstairs balcony and shot one for her.  When she told her mother the story, her mother wondered why he’d only got one.
The Chilean Earthquake
The next morning we woke up in our motel in Willits, to an email saying our son was fine.  Since I stupidly don’t speak Spanish, I had to go online to translate the rest of the message.  Only then did I see news of the Chile earthquake.  Simon and Caro (his girlfriend) had just arrived in Santiago the day before.   Just in time for the 3-minute long earthquake, measuring 8.8 on the Moment Magnitude scale. [3 minutes according to Wikipedia--I've seen it listed as anywhere from 90 seconds to 3 minutes; it's all too long]

We are extremely lucky.  Neither was hurt.  No one in Caro’s family was hurt.  And how lucky to find out about the earthquake by learning they were okay.  We were spared the hours of waiting and wondering.  We’re so grateful.

It was a surreal morning, spent emailing our daughter, Grace, in the Netherlands (she speaks Spanish), having her email Caro’s parents in Punta Arenas (in Patagonian Chile), and then relay the information back to us in Willits.  At the same time, we were all trying to contact our other daughter, Francesca, in Caserta, Italy.

We headed north again Saturday afternoon.  By then everyone in the family knew Simon was okay.  Facebook proved to be incredibly useful: we could post updates, relatives could check in.  I'm glad most of my family uses it.  While we were stretching our legs in Eureka, Simon finally got a call through to us.   What a relief it was to talk to him. 
Ways to Help Chile
CNN has a helpful site, Impact Your World, with links to organizations accepting donations for aid to Chile as well as to Haiti, which, of course, is also still in dire need of help. 
It’s time to check our earthquake supplies here in the Pacific Northwest.
Read More on the Chilean Earthquake
Eric Asimov's column, The Pour, discusses the damage suffered by the Chilean wine industry ( Maule, one Chilean region hit hard in the quake,  produces half of the wine exported).  Also, here's a New York Time's Op-Ed piece, 'In Chile, Life Between the Tremors', by Alberto Fuguet, which gives a sense of what it's like in Santiago in these first post-quake days.

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