While dining out recently, Jeff and I struck up a conversation with our waiter about our travels. At one point, the waiter asked us if we had been afraid of coming to Chile?
My mind quickly ran through the check-list of things that tourists try to steer clear of: military coups, dengue fever, bands of menacing teenagers with murder in their eyes… None of these things even remotely resembled the Chile that I’m familiar with, so I asked the waiter for clarification.
“Chile has the worst earthquakes in the world,” he elaborated. I responded with a blank stare.
Apparently my lack of resultant terror was the wrong response, as the waiter disappeared for the rest of our meal, and so did our bread refills.
That night, I awoke to a weird vibration. Before I could conclude whether I was dreaming or if Jeff’s snoring had gotten out-of-hand, the vibration turned into a sharp rocking, accompanied by a rumbling growl. 15 seconds later, it was all over: we were wide-awake, I was cowering in the doorway, and a cacophony of dogs were making their displeasure known.
Such tremors, which we’ve now experienced on 3 separate occasions – are about as noteworthy in Chile as the weather: ¨bummer, it´s cloudy, I felt a tremor last night – you too?¨ Chile is, after all, a card-carrying member of the infamous Ring-of-Fire club – – home to some of the strongest and most frequent earthquakes in the world. Anything below a 6 on the Richter scale is barely worth a mention.
There is a fear of earthquakes here. But there’s also an apparent sense of pride of having successfully navigated so many. It has been pointed out to us on numerous occasions that the strongest earthquake in the world (registering a whopping 9.5 on the Richter scale!) took place in Chile.
As all this is new to us (Denver = not a member of the Ring-of-fire Club) we want to learn more, so we frequent the US Geological Survey website with regularity. The site is actually pretty cool: USGS map detailing worldwide earthquakes in last 7 days.
All this earthquake talk can sound unsettling, but rest assured we feel perfectly safe and Chile has helped develop the inner geologists in us. There are few places in the world one can go without encountering some type of natural threat: from tornados to wildfires, hurricanes to flooding, and even the occasional ‘haboob’. And just as New Orleans has the ‘Hurricane” as a favorite beverage, so too does Chile have the ‘Terremoto’, an interesting concoction of fortified wine, syrup, and ice-cream! Those are about as unsettling (pun intended) as the real thing.