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We got ’em.

The very first earthquake I felt in Chile was in the first apartment I lived in (briefly), up in Providencia, on a tiny street called Los Maitenes. I was laying in bed in a beige apartment that was wrong for me in every way (carpet! not bright! no view! rented it with my ex!), and the quaking started. I was tired and lazy, and laying under a comforter which came free with my bed, which was something I’d had no idea would happen, and I was very surprised when it finally arrived, after three days on hold with what was then called “Almacenes París” (now just París).

That quake was completely uninteresting, and I didn’t even have internet at home. It was pre-twitter and pre (for me) facebook. I had a cellphone, but no one really to call, and so it shook, I woke up, and then I went back to sleep.

Not so recent quakes! Let me first make a disclaimer. I was not in Chile for the February 27, 2010 quake, which people call 27F. I was in New Zealand and actually found out about it on Facebook, from a dear friend who has a way with language, and when he said, “terremoto” (earthquake) instead of “temblór” (tremor), I knew things were serious.

But Facebook! (and twitter). One of the first things I do, after I’ve assured myself that my building is not about to fall over backwards (this has been an ongoing periodic nightmare since before that building in Concepción fell over on its back), is get on the horn.

I report: It’s shaking, it’s quaking, shaky shaky in Santiago. Temblor in Santiago, woah that was a strong one, etc. And so does everyone else. I can pretty much guarantee a midnight (or last night, 1 AM) conversation with a huge part of my cast of characters. On Twitter, on Facebook. Last night one friend even called me to make sure everything was ok. I heard the cell system got saturated (colapsado in Spanish), but we both have landlines, so she called to check on me.

On the one hand, I’m not (at all) a fan of being awakened unexpectedly in the middle of the night, especially with something that makes my adrenaline flow (there’s a funny story about two friends who came to my house in the middle of the night when I shouldn’t have been there, but my vacation got cancelled due to an unfortunate woodsplitting accident. Oh! memories). On the other hand, it is tremendously calming to talk to other people to confirm my experience, make sure everyone is ok, and get the virtual pat on the back you’d get if you were a little kid and you’d had a nightmare.

The other thing we do is check to see where the earthquake was, and how strong it was. At this point we all have a pretty good idea, with 4-and unders barely rattling the dishes, and March’s 7.1 sloshing the kitchen sink water, and last night’s 6.5 bowing the windows in their frames (sounded like).

In case you’re interested, here’s where we check:

US Geological Service (world quakes plotted on a map)
Univ. de Chile Servicio Sismológico (graphical data on recent quakes in Chile)
Chile Ministry of the Interior and Public Safety (though keep in mind these are the people that failed to give the tsunami alert in the 27F quake)
Sismos en Chile (quakes on a map only in Chile, from the U de Chile data)

And since we’re talking about earthquakes, consider the fact that there were about 9300 significant ones last year. Here’s an article (that I wrote) with a link to a video that shows them all in a sped-up real time. Freaked me right out.

Despite what might sound like a terrifying experience and a visit-me-not quality to Santiago, the chances of you feeling an earthquake while you’re here are not particularly high (one friend missed all of them in deep sleep until the last few), and the chances of earthquake-induced-inconvenience is even lower. But for now, catch us all on twitter (or set up a column in tweetdeck for Chile, though it will speed by so fast as to be practically blurry, especially when a quake has happened), or FB (if you know us), or keep your ear to the seismic ground. Or in the case of a friend who called me, watch Isidora (who is actually male, but we didn’t know this until recently) the aquatic turtle, because she/he will go nutso right before it happens.