Day 77 – Earthquake

By now I’m sure you´ve heard about the devastating 8.0 earthquake (the worst to hit Peru in decades) that ravaged the entire south coast of Peru the night before last  The cities of Pisco and Ica were the hardest hit, with over 300 dead in Pisco alone and thousands of homes reduced to rubble.  Many areas are still without power, and the Pan-American highway, the very stretch that Ted and I rode about a week ago, has been badly damaged and traffic has been reduced to one lane, hampering relief efforts.  The San Clemente Cathedral in Pisco, which has withstood dozens of earthquakes in the past, succumbed to this quake, collapsing during the evening mass.  (Ted and I stopped to fill up with gas in Pisco.)  San Clemente was only about an hour’s drive away from the mud brick constructed church where Ted and I slept in the village of Reposo.  I hope our gracious hosts are alright.

Hearing that 510 people have been killed (so far) is not just a number to me.  Ted and I have experienced first hand the generosity and kindness of the Peruvian people, particularly the families living in the mud-brick houses that collapsed by the thousands two nights ago.  These people, although poor, have been kind enough to take two strangers from Canada (and their motorcycles) into their homes.  

Peruvian hospitality has been remarkable.  People have insisted on giving up their beds for those two Canaidan strangers (and won’t take no for an answer until shown inflated thermarests).  Yes, an elderly couple would have gladly slept on the ground. 

These are the kind of people who would serve their Canadians guests two servings of eggs and bread for breakfast, and then eat nothing but bread themselves.  Yes, the two Canadians only realized afterwards that they had eaten the entire family’s supply of eggs.  This theme was repeated throughout Peru.  In another example, two Cuys were cooked for breakfast.  The two Canadians shared one, and six other people shared the other.  This is the generosity of the Peruvian people.

Ted and I were in an internet cafe in Cusco when the earthquake struck.  At first I thought I was feeling the after-affects of a day of white-water rafting on the Rio Urabambe.  I turned to Ted and asked him if the floor was shaking.  My question was answered as frightened people around us dove under desks and raced for the doorframe.  Cusco is hundreds of kilometres from the epicentre, and yet the ground was shaking enough to cause panic.  I can´t imagine what it would have been like with buildings collapsing all around.

One of the effects of going on a trip such as ours is that trajedies like this earthquake take on a much more human scale.  From now on, any news from the countries I’ve travelled through will be coloured by the experiences I had and the friends I made there.


3 thoughts on “Day 77 – Earthquake

  1. Glad to hear that you guys are ok – I didn’t put two and two together until I heard about the highway this morning and started to think about your last post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s