fb_img_1486313681129Meaning: earthquake

It’s Christmas day in Bariloche, the pretty little town beside a big blue lake in the northern part of Patagonia, Argentina. We sit with other foreigners at the dining table in the hostel located on the 25th floor of a residential building- the penthouse level. The hostel looks out onto the beautiful lake with windows all along one side. People from all over can be heard talking on a poor wifi signal wishing family members at home Merry Christmas in different languages. Others discuss how different the day would be for them at home- what they would eat, who they would see. I am missing the usual routine of the beach and then a huge lunch full of fresh salads and stupid jokes found in christmas crackers. At the table I open the two presents I have brought with me from home and am glad I resisted the temptation to open them earlier. All of a sudden the building starts to sway and shake. The floor makes an awful creaking noise and I have the sensation of being quite dizzy, like when your stomach drops in an elevator. Everyone goes silent, looking around at each other, panicked faces. I look at the Dutch girl sitting near me and her eyes are wide. Some people grip the table and laugh nervously. We’re all thinking the same thing- 25th floor of an old building isn’t the best place to be. Reading our minds, the Swedish woman who works at reception tells us not to worry. “This building is actually reinforced for earthquakes, so it’s the best place to be right now.” We all smile, relieved. Only afterwards when the furniture has stopped shaking and everyone is gushing excitedly about what has just happened, do I think that the building probably isn’t that safe, but I’m glad of her reassuring words for a few moments of fear.


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