Friday, October 28, 2011

No one likes to be told what to do. . .

Do you ever have days when it seems someone is trying to tell you something? For me, yesterday was a day like that and the message was: No one likes to be told what to do. I don't! Do you? Of course not! No one does! But here is how the message came to me yesterday:

It started when Jim and I were trying to leave the house to start our journey to Rancagua for my first chemo treatment. Dasha Luna kept hovering near the door ready to make a dash for it. I picked her up and carried her down the hall to the bedroom where her friends Zsa Zsa and Suzy Q were already enjoying the sun on the bed. I said to her, 'stay here with your friends for awhile.' but before I could put her down, she pushed against my chest and sprang from my arms as if to say, 'you can't tell me what to do, I will do it myself!' Oooo-kaaay! She doesn't like being told what to do. I get it.

An hour later we are on the bus when a mom gets on with a little girl about 2 1/2 with curly light brown hair and rosy cheeks. She was a real cutie pie. As soon as they sat down a few rows behind us, the little girl began a non-stop chattering monologue. Now, I am a bit weak in Spanish baby talk but I did make out the repeated mantra of 'mio, mio, mio' (mine, mine, mine) and the occasional 'let's go bye bye' in English. Jim and I were enjoying it and sometimes softly laughing together. Her mom never had a chance to speak but we heard her say 'shush' after about 10 choruses of little Miss Cutie Pie Bright Cheek's La La La La song. After being 'shushed' she didn't miss a single La but continued now with a steady cresendo with each La a bit louder and more punctuated. How cute! After a slow and steady progress, she reached a grand finale with a big, loud, and long LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Needless to say we were laughing out loud by then. I said to Jim, 'she's like Dasha Luna, doesn't like to be told what to do.'

Fast forward 10 hours later, we are home and listening to some music by the Rolling Stones. Suddenly, as if Mick Jagger has a message just for me I hear him sing, 'Be my little baby for awhile.' What? I don't think so! 'Won't you be my little baby for awhile.' Oh, well, if you put that way, sure!I get it, no one likes to be told what to do be them a willful kitten, a very little girl, or a fan of the Stones. I get it! NO ONE LIKES TO BE TOLD WHAT TO DO! Thanks Dasha Luna, Little Miss Cutie Pie Bright Cheeks, and Mick Jagger for giving me that important message.

Does this ever happen to you?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Post Office Damage and Empty Lagoon after Saturday's Earthquake in Pichilemu, Chile

Today I found out why the post office was still closed. It's been condemned! They have a little makeshift PO down the street. If you look closely, you can see cracks and places where the plaster has fallen off.

Below is the building next door to the PO. Looks even worse in person. The wall is actually bulging out!
The following three pictures are of the lagoon north of the cove. Last week it was full of water and now it is almost empty. Very strange! I was told that a friend of ours who lives above the lagoon was calming his nerves with a whiskey after the massive earthquake while looking out his window. He saw a huge surge rush in when the tsunami struck and then most of the water drain out.

We never even knew there were rocks there because they were always covered with water.

Thanks for looking and for your interest in what happened here in Pichilemu. Please feel free to leave your comments or email me directly.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Earthquake Damage in Pichilemu, Chile

Today was mi suerte dia (my lucky day)! The ATMs were working and I was able to get some cash! And I was able to buy groceries with a credit card. Unfortunately, there was very little to buy, no fresh meat - just deli things. So I bought bread, cheese, ham and a bunch of other stuff we needed like shampoo, toilet paper, paper towels and dish detergent. And I was even luckier to find a collectivo right outside the store where usually there isn't one within 3 blocks. And he was a friend of ours and brought me all the way to our house (the collectivos usually drop us off about 2 blocks from our house on Comercio unless we tip them a little extra). A lucky day for me, indeed. Then, with the cash, Jim and I went to the little store near our house and found pork chops! And fresh veggies and fruit! Yummm!

Below are some pictures I took today of what little earthquake damage I saw.

On a sad note, we saw several vehicles of military heading south to Paradones. And military helicoptors scanning the beach for bodies. What a grisly thought to think that there could be bodies washing up on our beach.
Feel free to leave your comments or email me directly,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

More Pictures of Pichilemu after the Tsunami and Earthquake

This is a little bar across from the Plaza (park) and you can see the watermark on the side of the building. This is about 2 blocks from the beach.

This building across from the beach lost a wall seen in the foreground. On the right there are some men who were cleaning up but they seemed rather stunned. They had to stop often just to look around as if they still couldn't believe it.

I know it's hard to see, but straight ahead under the sign are three surfers going out to brave the surf.
The debris that washed ashore.
These fishermen are cleaning up their boats. The guy on the tractor (next to the yellow boat) haul them in and out of the water and probably helped them get their boats back on the sand. Many boats are still on the street.

This is across from the cabanas where we stayed. Next to the sidewalk is a lamp post bent completely flat from where it is attached at the base. The balustrade and most of the white and red do-dads that look sort of like bowling pins (seen below) were sheered off.

Below is the beach walk that fronts the sand. It once had a balustrade on the beach side. You can see the base of it but nothing else is left.

Thanks for your interest is what happened here in Pichilemu. Please feel free to leave your comments or email me directly.

Pictures of Earthquake and Tsunami Damage in Pichilemu, Chile

Below are a few pictures of the devastation suffered by Pichilemu from the 8.8 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. I have more pictures but the wifi signal is weakening and I cannot get any more pictures to upload, but I will try again later.
A sad note, our friends Leo and Maria Angelica just dropped by to see how we were and Maria told me that she heard that 26 people were killed here in Pichilemu. I saw a funeral procession while I was in town today but I had hoped that it was from a natural death and not a result of our disaster. Sorry that I gave out wrong information.

As expected, there was a great deal of debris all over the beach and cove areas.
Above is the cabana where we spent the first three weeks we were in Pichilemu waiting for the purchase of our house to be completed. We would lie in bed and watch the surfers in the fabulous waves just across the street. Now there is a steel shipping container smashed into that very same window. Above is the front and below is the back of Pepe Cuervo's restaurant.
Below was once a little snack bar next door to a surf camp. The surf camp seemed to be okay, but this little snack bar was destroyed.

Above is a clean up crew clearing debris that is piled up on the streets.

Below is another of our favorite restaurants. It is well above the beach but suffered lots of glass falling inside as a result of the earthquake.

Thanks for your interest in what happened in Pichilemu as a result of Saturday's devastating 8.8 earthquake and tsunami. Please feel free to leave your comments or email me directly.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Narrative of the 8.8 Earthquake in Chile


On Saturday morning, Feb 27 at around 3:35 am Chile experienced a massive earthquake. My husband Jim and I, along with our cat family, live in Pichilemu which is about 150 miles from the epicenter of the quake.
We both had insomnia that Friday night so we were wide awake when we felt the first rumbles and movement. Jim said, ‘Earthquake, get your clothes on!’ As I was struggling into my sweats he said, ‘Get on the floor!’ and I did. The shaking was so strong and violent we could not walk until it was over. And it seemed like an eternity before it stopped shaking and bouncing us around. It was the biggest, strongest, longest, most violent and scariest earthquake we've ever experienced! It felt to me to last about five minutes but I found out later it was only three minutes. They were the longest three minutes of my life. (Midway through the quaking, the lights went out. We didn’t know it would be until Tuesday afternoon before we had power again.) I slipped on my flip flops and he said, ‘No, your real shoes.’ Of course, but I was trying to hurry out of there. But, I knew he was right so I found my shoes and socks and got them on in record time. I was worried about a tsunami so I rushed to the front window where I saw rather flat waves and amazingly, a truck traveling down Comercio (the highway that skirts the beach). I thought to myself, ‘how in world could that truck still be on the road?’ I was about to go out the door when Jim said, ‘Get a jacket.’ Again, I was not thinking of anything but getting out but, I grabbed a sweatshirt jacket and he handed me a flashlight and got another for himself. Our cats were nowhere to be seen and we hoped there wouldn’t be a tsunami and they’d be safe.

When we got out the door and onto our deck our neighbors on both sides were also on their decks talking on cell phones. I assumed they’d follow us up the hill but didn’t see them again that night. We quickly walked the steep three blocks to Maria Luisa and Pancho’s house which is the highest on the hill behind us. We were greeted by neighbors on foot and in cars flocking into their driveway. Their three dogs were excited and upset by so many people they didn’t know, along with dogs they also didn’t know, converging in their yard. At one point the three picked a fight with a big German Shepherd and Jim growled, ‘HEY!’ and they stopped fighting. We knew behind their house is a large backyard that stretches even higher up the hill so we went there and sat to rest on a bench where we could see the ocean. Just as an aftershock shook us, I noticed a big wave forming. It was not a huge wave but bigger than the flat waves we saw before. We both decided it would be a good idea to go a little higher. At the gate leading up the hill, we met a young couple who had been in the truck I saw earlier on the highway. He later demonstrated the difficulty he had keeping control of their vehicle. We also met a woman holding a baby and her mom who were vacationing here. Their family including the woman’s husband, were in Concepcion which is where we believed the epicenter to be. When the woman tried to call her husband, she only got a beep, beep, beep meaning that the signal was down.
I looked at the young couple, pointed up the hill and said, ‘Arriba.’ They nodded once and started walking. I looked back once at the wave and saw it was just breaking and I wondered if it was significant. Later I found out that it was about the same time a tsunami hit Pichilemu, which is about 2 miles north of where we live in Playa Hermosa.

We had to crawl through a couple of barred wire fences and I learn that the baby was quite heavy when the woman handed him to me while Jim held the wire up for her to crawl under. The baby was so good, never woke up or cried the whole time, until at 6:30 when he was hungry. I was impressed that the women had the presence of mind to not only dress themselves warmly, have the baby bundled up warmly, each have a flashlight, plus have a bottle for the baby.

There was a group in front of us calling for their dog and stopped climbing the hill about midway. We continued to the top, stopping when we found a clearing where falling trees would not likely fall on us. We grouped off into three little groups sitting where we could keep an eye on the ocean. It was then that we found that Kimba (pronounce Keemba) one of Maria Luisa’s dogs had accompanied us. Kimba would come visit each of us and then patrol the area and then come check on us again. He would sometimes rest next to us or the others but never slept. Neither did we. He stayed with us until daylight when we all started to descend the hill.

Fortunately, it was a clear night with an almost full moon which illuminated the shore break. We all kept our eyes on the ocean, grateful of not seeing the water recede which would signal a tsunami. It wasn’t uncomfortably cold until the moon began to set. We also lost the light on the ocean but it was an awesome sight to see the moon sink below the off shore low clouds that were hovering over the horizon. I got stiff from sitting on the ground so long so I stood and stretch a little. Jim also got up and I stood in front of him with his arms around me keeping my back warm while I kept his front warm. It seemed like hours before the sun came up. Around 7:30 it was full light and the young couple started back. Jim and I slowly followed with the woman, baby, and grandmama following us.

On the way down, we could see several cars to the south of us that had driven as far up the hill as they could and turned to face the ocean. The occupants were beginning to stir and drive back down.

When we reached Maria Luisa and Pancho’s front yard we found several girls on the ground slumber party style and other neighbors huddled in blankets sitting in chairs around the girls while others were emerging from their cars.

I was anxious to see our house and our cats but Jim wanted me to stay there while he went down alone, just in case there was another quake or a tsunami. I hated to wait behind but I did. Jorge and Miriam, neighbors and friends of ours, came to check on everyone while I was standing there waiting for Jim. Miriam looked very upset, asked how I was, how the house was and where was Jim? She looked relieved when I told her he was checking the house and our cats.

Finally, he came back with a bag of supplies in case we stayed there. But after a cup of coffee for him and tea for me, we talked to the others about going back down, and we decided it was safe to do so. On the way, Jim told me that the room that took the hardest hit was my studio. Then I remember hearing things falling in there, but I keep the door closed at night so the cats can’t play with my things, and I didn’t look in before we left. He also told me that he saw all the cats except Zsa Zsa, our white cat who is the most sensitive of all of them. (I later found her hiding under the covers in our bed.)

In the kitchen, nothing was broken and only a couple of things had fallen out of the cabinet: a little bottle of maple syrup recently sent to us from my cousin Connie and a plastic first aid kit. Amazing! But, my studio was a mess! When I started to clean up, again I was amazed. Only two things were broken: the glass in a picture frame and a vase Jim gave me over 20 years ago. I was sad about the vase until I realized in the big scheme of things it was insignificant. One thing that really puzzled me was a framed that shook apart on the floor but the glass didn’t break. Another puzzle was the little glass drop that had broken in transit from a glass sculpture Connie had sent. Just days before, I put it in a tiny vase on my shelf but I found the glass drop on my desk while the vase was still in its original position. The glass drop had to have hopped out of the vase and the vase didn’t move. Several books had worked their way out to the edge of their shelves but only one hit the floor: a collection of short stories by Edgar Allen Poe. How’s that for spooky?

We still hadn’t found our Zsa Zsa but when I was making the bed, I found her hiding under the covers. She’d come up for a few minutes but spent most of the day hiding under the covers.

We were having such frequent and violent aftershocks that we thought we’d better prepare for leaving again and camping outside if need be. We packed up a lot of gear like sleeping bags, a tent, food, clothing, and toiletries. Then we sat outside and watched our neighbors pack up and leave. What great neighbors! The neighbor to the north gave us all the food she had in her fridge, which was very thoughtful since it would take some time before the stores would be open again. She told us she is a medical person and a wing of the hospital in Rancagua had collapsed and she had to go home. The neighbors to the south offered us their gas bottle but we refused since we had enough to last several days. They told us that a big wave hit Pichilemu and destroyed the park that is a block from the beach.

Jim inspected the house and found no damage at all! It shook us so hard it was hard to believe something hadn’t shaken apart but nothing did. Chileans know how to build houses to withstand earthquakes!

The aftershocks seemed to ease off a bit so we went back inside and spent the night. I woke up with severe vertigo and nausea. Jim felt it too but not as badly as I did. At first I thought it was the stress but Jim said he thought it was a kind of motion sickness. He calls it ‘Shaken Adult Syndrome.’ And it seems correct since my neck has little flexibility (having 4 vertebrae fused together and a titanium plate implanted). Even now on Tuesday, I am still experiencing vertigo. But, it is lessening each day.

I tried several times on Saturday to connect to the internet but the wi fi signal was too weak. But, finally it connected and I quickly sent a short message to my mom and few other people. I tried repeatedly everyday to connect again but never could until today. We were trying conserve the battery of the laptop much as you would conserve flares on a lifeboat. Today when I tried and got connected I was so happy only to be dismayed when I saw the low battery warning. Again, I could send only a short note.

On Sunday afternoon our friend Maurice, owner of the Hotel Bahia ( came to check on us on his way to visit his mom who lives in a distant city. His hotel had no damage except a large crack on one wall. He said that night he was standing outside his hotel which is a block up a steep hill from the park when his friend said, ‘Look, there’s no water!’ Then a big wave came in followed by a really big wave (about 15 feet), then a third backsplash type wave. He said it was terrible and there was a lot of damage along the beach. We decided to go see for ourselves the next day.

Monday morning we went to Pichilemu and were dismayed by the damage we saw. Our favorite restaurant Pepe Cuervo’s was destroyed. When we first arrived in Pichilemu in May, 2007 we stayed in a cabana for about three weeks while we waited for the purchase of our house to go through.(We luckily found our house the second day we were here.) I wanted to see how it fared. Not well, I’m afraid. There is a steel shipping container smashed into the front window from where we once could lie in bed and watch the surfers.

We stopped by the Senior Center on our way to the park and saw our friends Lia, Lia’s mom who is in the 90’s, Mario, and Guillermo. Everyone gave us big hugs and kisses, happy to see us alive and well. We were happy to see them too and learn that all were okay. But, we were saddened to learn about so many people being killed and injured in other places. Lia told us about an island where all 400 vacationers were swept away and never seen again.

While we were gone, our friend Mariana ( came by and left a note. She came by again today and said her cabanas are all still standing with no damage except for one broken window and kitchen things broken on the floors.

There were no lives lost in Pichilemu. The earthquake gave everyone sufficient warning to get to higher ground. The only damage we saw from the earthquake was a couple of fence walls that had fallen over. And, the only damage from the tsunami was along the beach in the cove. We were so grateful no one was killed here and all our friends are safe with no damage to their homes.

I took several pictures and will publish them in a separate post. This narrative has been long enough with just the text.

Please feel free to leave your comments or email me directly.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Horse Taxis and the Circus in Pichilemu

Up until a little over 20 years ago, there were no cars in Pichilemu. That's right, everyone had horses, horse carts, or bikes. So, of course, there were 'horse taxis' like these shown below. Today, they are mainly used for the summer tourists. They are really fun to ride in but are considerably more expensive than the Colletivo taxis that cost about 60 cents/person.

And, so it follows, that wherever you have horses you must also have horse poop. Below is the horse poop scooper upper. I followed this guy for about a block trying to snap his picture but he was really moving out. I had to click this picture quick as he only stopped to turn around, having found no poop to scoop on this block.

Every summer the circus comes and stays for three months! So does the carnival. But the thing that is a mystery to me is why they don't open until 8 pm. Even on the weekends! No matinees! All summer there are hordes of tourists here but they cannot see the show during the day. It could be that most Chileans work until about 7 - 8 pm. Most employees get a two hour lunch that extends their work day into early evening. That's why the evening news doesn't come on until 9 pm. Interesting, no?

This is an old fashion circus with a tent! You can see it behind the boleteria. How cool is that?!