My first earthquake in Nicaragua was a pretty mild, middle of the night situation. Generally at 0-dark-30 my most intelligent thoughts range somewhere around "faummmmmmphhhrggggouifwau" but in this case I somehow came to a conclusion that there was monster under my bed shaking it. I rolled over and went back to sleep. My second earthquake happened one hungover morning during a conference. Similarly, my most intelligent hangover thoughts range somewhere around "dhaummmmmmphhhrggggouifgh." This time, however, the Nica gentleman sitting next to me grabbed my arm and yelled "Was that an earthquake!?" It turns out that he too was an East Coast (of Nicaragua) kid. So we all walked out of the big cement building that might fall on us to stand in the sun right next to the big cement building that might fall on us.
Here I think it might be helpful to explain the different gradations of earthquakes. The English language doesn't really distinguish much between little tiny earthquakes and big destructive ones. Spanish is more specific: a temblor or sismo versus a terremoto. This is only important if, while living in a city that was destroyed in a giant earthquake, you tell your coworkers that you dreamt there was a terremoto and they begin to fear your wrath or predictive abilities.... when you really dreamt that like a couple of lawn chairs fell over in a giant field. The intensity of an earthquake is in fact determined by their strength on the Richter scale (a 3 is like a truck driving by), their depth, their proximity, and their duration. The two temblores I had experienced were pretty deep, pretty close 4s lasting about 5 seconds or less.
|The fault lines under Managua. Scary no?|
About two weeks letter I was chilling in French class (yes I'm learning French in a Spanish speaking country) when there was some significant shaking and all the lights went out. It was a pretty shallow, pretty close 6 lasting about 6 seconds. People in Managua are trained to run out of the building as soon as an earthquake happens. If you live in a place with pretty sturdy infrastructure this wouldn't be your first move, but we all went outside until everyone was accounted for and told to go home. Recognizing that a post-earthquake commute with no electricity would be difficult to say the least, I hunkered down, took a potty break, ate some oreos, and waited until the lights came back on. It still took me two hours to get home.
For the next week the earth shook from time to time, including two other 6s resulting in a sleep-deprived, antsy, and nauseated Lenni (earthquake motion sickness is a thing. really.) I was not alone in this condition. My boss called me to say that she was leaving town with her family and that I should either come with her or sleep at her one-story house instead of in my two-story deathtrap. I thought she was overreacting but after a night that just felt full of bad mojo (even though nothing shook) my friend L and I decided to kick out my couchsurfer (Sorry Ludwig!) and escape to Matagalpa.
In case you care, we had planned this trip earlier because during Semana Santa (Holy Week) everyone and their mother goes to the beach and we, being contrary, decided to head for the hills. We just left earlier than planned.
Anyhoo, Matagalpa is a town in the "highlands" where it is cool, walkable, and geologically stable. Because of the holiday everything was closed but L and I were really only there to read, sleep, and eat without shaking. We stayed in town at La Buena Onda for two nights and somehow lucked into the coolest roomies ever: an Irish volunteer, an American Fulbright scholar, and a Canadian long-term backpacker who all, like us, had decided to escape earthquakes and crazy beach tourists.
We rolled in a pack for a day having lengthy political and philisophical discussions and then headed up to Selva Negra where L and I had reservations for another two nights. Selva Negra is a coffee farm run by some 3rd generation German immigrants. It has lots of hiking trails, farm tours, and a restaurant serving up German beer, homemade cheese, and organic veggies. It was fabu. Again we didn't do much besides read, eat, sleep, and hike so I'll just share some pictures after this one story.
One evening it was pretty cold and I asked the waiter if he knew how to make a hot toddy. He said no, even after I explained the ingredients, and so I ordered a tea with lemon. Only after finishing the tea did I realize that I could have just ordered the tea and a whisky and made the darn thing myself.
All pictures courtesy of the lovely L. You steal them you die.
|We're still not sure what this is. A Coffee dryer? But doesn't it look pretty?|
|The chapel on the grounds|
|Visitors from all over the world...including New Haven!|
|I have an interlude with a tree|
|The view of Matagalpa from the ridge|