Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pam Roach Recounts Chile In Wake Of Earthquake

Santiago, Chile has one of the best inter city train systems in the world. It is supported by an armada of cabs that take riders into the burbs to the very humble homes all barred with wrought ironed windows. The rich live on the hillsides in mansions.

I took son Dan with me to pick up my daughter as she was leaving her 1 1/2 year L.D.S. mission. Together we spent 10 days in the country, staying in the homes of the people and traveling to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. We took a 30's vintage train to Puerta Montt and then luxury bused it back to Santiago for home.

So in the dusty curtained sleeper car there was one toilet. I was a little was a squat hole with the tracks speeding underneath!

This Saturday, driving home after session, I listened to a talk account of the earthquake. The announcer had never been there and stated, "The damage won't be much because of one thing: rebar!" Well... this country is 400 years old. We are seeing the results just now because much of this country is poor and rural.

Santiago is a mix with old cathedrals and edifices built over a 350 year span. At the D/T McDonalds the restrooms look just like the ones here except for the basket next to the toilet. NO PAPER goes down the sewer. Throughout the city and into the neighborhoods...the sewer system cannot take the paper. Fragile and old...what do we think this earthquake means to the underground infrastructure? The city was built on top of the old systems.

The earthquake was centered near Concepcion. Sanitary conditions will be offset for years. Chile, in a structural sense, is a house built on sand.

Washington State businesses have invested in Chile. Trillium (based in Bellingham, WA) has trees growing all over the hillsides. U.S. tree growers invested in other countries when the enviros here decided trees were not a renewable resource.

Troutlodge has a large facility in Puerto Montt. We travelled south to see the fish farm but lost contact with the manager. We taxied into the countryside to see a competitor's operation. I loved Chile. I loved the people there.

I have never had food poisoning so bad as after the tostado with piled high avocado. (Dan was out too. My daughter was used to the food bugs I guess.) I have never had a more exciting ride than the small bus careening down the curving hillsides of Vina del Mar, and I have never had a more heart felt conversation in Spanish than when Pedro(17) told me at the airport that he didn't want my sweet blond-haired daughter to leave...he had a crush on her.

The length of Chile is like Seattle to San Diego...twice!


gorillamum said...

This must be tearing at your daughter's heart. Seeing the devistaion not only in this country but in Haiti as well makes me feel so helpless. Being poor I have nothing to donate myself. Is there anything we poor can do from home via phone, computer not only now but be set for future disasters natural or not? I've got nothing but time on my hands.

Anonymous said...

i read somewhere that to see the world you just need to visit Chile..they have every sort of geography imaginable on earth.