Saturday, March 12, 2011


Friday, March 11, 2011- I planned to get up at 5:30AM because we were going fishing for class, but Lorena woke me up at 5:20 by knocking like crazy on my door. She told me a whole bunch of things, but I was not awake and the only Spanish I understood was English- tsunami. We went into their bedroom and watched the news as reports of the earthquake, nuclear power plant explosion, and tsunami came through. I called Johann at IOI and asked if we were going fishing (the tsunami was still 12 hours away) and he said no, but he still wanted everyone to come to IOI at 6 for a briefing. 
6 AM- I get to IOI and surprisingly not everyone has heard about the tsunami so I got to inform everyone that this may be their last and day alive and everyone was going to die :). Johann gives us a briefing about what the plan of action was and what the state of the situation was. The Ecuadorian government had ordered an evacuation of all coastal regions and Johann instructed us to stay with our families as we evacuated to the highlands and we were to meet again at 10 for an update (later they told us to just go to the highlands and not meet again).  
7 AM- I take a nap in the IOI library because I need to be rested in order to enjoy my last day alive. Lauren begins to call all of our host families to learn their plan of action. She tells me that my family is leaving to go to the highlands soon and to bring a book for entertainment. I grab "The Beak of the Finch".
8 AM- I ride my bike home to find that Lorena has packed everything we could possibly need in order to spend an entire month in the middle of nowhere- pots, pans, cleaning supplies, silverware, sleeping bags, tents, clothes, blankets, pillows, every item of food from the kitchen- frozen food, vegetables, fruit, books, stools/chairs, shoes, sheet, towels, EVERYTHING. My first thought- Oh man, I'm a little behind. I pack a bag of warm clothes, food, playing cards, and my ipod. A little after 8:30 my uncle's truck pulls up in front of the house and we load our stuff on and jump in. 
9 AM- We arrive in the highlands. I knew that my family had a plot of land, but I didn't know this included a little house. When we arrived it was filthy and the women (my host mom and her sisters-in-law) sent everyone outside while they scrubbed down the entire house down. It's a small house with one bedroom and one bathroom and a living/kitchen area. From what it looked like when we arrived it appears as though my host dad and his brothers use it as a base camp when they hunt cows. When we were allowed inside, it was still pretty dirty, but it was comfortable enough. 
10 AM-5PM- Two more truck fulls of people and their stuff arrived including multiple mattresses. Junior's entire family was there. This included his 2 brothers, 2 sisters, their spouses, mother, and all the grandchildren. It was a lot for such a small house. I spent the day reading, listening to music, playing with the kids, going on walks, etc. We had a TV with us and an antennae so we were able to watch the news. The women made homemade chicken noodle soup for lunch and chicken and rice. 
Maithe and Pamela

the cutest pig in the world- notice the two different color eyes

they had the most gorgeous flowers

the name of the area we were in

Me, Maithe, and Pamela on a walk

My crazy uncle trying to scare me

Sharpening a machete- he worked on clearing the driveway of overgrown grass
5 PM- Supposedly this is when the tsunami should have hit. We walked to a point where we could see the water, but we were so high up it was impossible to see anything. We listened to the report of a 6m wave on the neighboring island of Santa Cruz (this turned out to be not true), but it worried us that we were getting the same. Lorena kept saying things like “If we go back and our house isn’t there, at least we have each other”. Depressing. We ate dinner which was more chicken fried rice and tortillas. 

This was taken around 5 PM- supposed time of the tsunami. We were so high up you could barely see the water.
7 PM- For some reason we all got ready for bed and turned off the lights. The reina of Santa Cruz (kind of like Miss Santa Cruz) was also with us so we began to play pranks on each other like throwing an apple stem and calling it a spider. Lorena grabbed all of her covers and ran away with them. One of the families brought a giant speaker with them because they didn’t want to lose it in the water and we hooked up a blackberry to it and had a dance/jump on the bed party. We had a lot of people in the house so Maithe, Lorena, and I shared a mattress on the floor. People filled up the three other mattresses and some people were in sleeping bags on the floor. Even more people slept outside either in the truck or in a tent. I used my uncle's blackberry and a calling card to call my dad. I told him that everything was safe. He had talked to Dr. Peterson at UM who had talked to Johann who didn't evacuate IOI and he reported only a 1 foot wave in Puerto Villamil. At the same time a police car drove by and announced the "all clear". We all were able to sleep a little better knowing this (but I still had to deal with the noise of the cows who thought 2 AM was a perfect time to moo, horses, roosters, and dogs)
the main room

the bedroom and the mattress I slept on
5 AM- Apparently this is the appropriate time to wake up in the highlands. People started making noise and moving around.
6 AM- Everyone is up and out of bed. Lorena gives me breakfast which was fruit, corn flakes, and yogurt. I read some more. Listen to some music.
7:30 AM- Lorena says I can go back in the first truck load of people and I gladly do. 

one truckfull this morning- notice the tv, coffee table, and two mattresses
8 AM- I put my bag down in my room in town. The floor is dry. Everything is safe. I ride my bike down to IOI and go out to the beach. The high tide during the full moon a couple weeks ago got more of the beach wet than the tsunami. We got off easy. The other islands got it worse, but nothing really bad. So that’s my story and I survived. 
I took this early Saturday morning- the wet portion is how far the "tsunami" traveled


  1. Technically tsunami is s Japanese word.

    - me being helpful

  2. wow I am so glad you are safe- what an adventure! You will never forget this trip.