After an early dinner with my parents, my hubbs and I went to bed early as we had an early wakeup call of 4 am to get up to Tahoe and snowboard with our friends and family. At about 11:30 I got a call from my mom. I was woken up apparently by the fifth time of her calling. She told me to put on CNN and that my brother had been in a terrible earthquake while in Santiago. I panicked, and started crying even before she could tell me he was okay at the moment. We live in earthquake country. It is no laughing matter. And no matter how hard you try to be prepared, there is always fear. As I am sure many of you have heard, Chile has been hit by an 8.8 earthquake. My brother is in Santiago for business. She said he made it out of the building okay but that she only talked to him for a few seconds. Apparently he tried calling his wife, my sister-in-law but couldn't get through. He had also tried calling me but I didn't hear my phone. He finally got through to my mom and only had about 30 seconds to tell her he was okay. After my mom let me know what was going on she went back to trying to call Suzie. She finally got through and of course we were all so upset. CNN immediately had images of the situation on TV. It was bad. I was crying, I was scared and felt so helpless. While my mom tried Suzie I kept trying my brother's international phone but to no avail. It would connect then go dead. I tried probably 50 times with no luck. We sat up all night watching the news and trying to get through.
Suzie and I stayed on the phone together all night talking and watching the news while my mom and Ari kept trying my brother's phone. All the images coming from the TV where awful. The whole country looked like it had crumbled. In the 30 second conversation my mom had had with my brother he told her that he was woken up violently in his hotel room to the shaking and his TV falling off the dresser and everything crashing in his room. He had attempted to put his pants and shoes on but his arm was asleep and just had to flee the 14 flights down the hotel stairwell and get out. He came out to the street with about 12 other people and sat across the street in the park with about 500 other people. He thought it was the end he told her. He is a big, strong guy. Very rational, but my mom said he told her all of this through tears and fear. He wasn't able to grab a thing, not his phone, his passport or his shoes or pants. Thankfully, it's the end of summer there so he wasn't in danger of being cold. He had to hang up as he had to give back the phone to the person he had browed it from.
This was the only news we got from him until 8:30 am the next morning our time (1:30 Chile time) when my phone finally got through to him. I was the first to talk to him. He said the hotel he was staying at had taken good care of them. They had brought him almost right away a robe and slippers and had already fed them breakfast and lunch. He was lucky to be staying where he was. He was at the Hyatt in Santiago, a brand new 5 star hotel that is built on casters. His hotel only had minor damages and was standing just fine. Apparently everything had come down inside but they had managed to have the building standing okay. He told us he had been in contact with the embassy and they were trying to figure out a way to get them out. I sobbed on the phone with him as he told me he thought it was the end. How he thought of his family and all of us. He was crying too, but so happy to hear one of our voices. His plan was to stay at the hotel and wait it out. He was kind of in a bubble though. His hotel is in a brand new part of Santiago that is built to withstand these kinds of quakes. He had no real idea yet of the damage in the rest of the country. He did know though, that the main highway to the airport had buckled and that the airport was closed for at least 24 hours.
After I got off the phone with him, Suzie got through to him and so did my mom. I had been up all night watching the TV and talking on the phone. It was awful. I was exhausted and we had no idea what we were up against. I sent Ari out for a big cup of coffee and bagel for me and went back to watching the TV in bed. I think I watched that TV non-stop for at least 14 hours that night and day. He was able to keep calling us back and giving us updates on his situation. The plan was for him to stay put at the hotel. Many people were trying to flee to Mendoza in Argentina but the roads were bad and it wasn't a sure thing. He said he was going to sleep outside next to the pool that night and wait for the embassy to get back to him.
We had immediately called off our trip to Tahoe in the middle of the night. There was no way we were going to frolic in the snow while my bro was in harm's way. He was able to go back in the building and shower and get his things but he was going to camp outside next to the pool from now on. It was so hard to hear the fear in his voice. All day Saturday we stayed by the phone and TV. The images on CNN were awful, and the only thing keeping us sane was the fact that he said he gone out to the street and said there was no damage near him. He was in a really good spot and the hotel was taking really good care of him. He was so lucky to be staying where he was. The only problem now was how to get him home. Delta canceled all flights out of Santiago until Tuesday and he was now confirmed on a flight for Wednesday. 72 hours of waiting? WTF? So we braced to sit and wait it out with him. Suzie was a wreck but she was holding it together well as was my mom and dad.
Saturday night he slept outside and we all kept glued to the TV and phone. But he woke us up again on Sunday morning saying that while he went in for 20 mins to take a shower another huge after shock came and he had to flee again. We were living it all over. That aftershock though put things into motion though. The company he was working for contacted him and his colleagues yesterday with a plan to get them out of there. They were sending a private plane to Mendoza in Argentina on Tuesday morning and that they were to get on there. The only problem is, he had to get in a van, cross the Andes and then into Mendoza that is swamped with people who have fled Chile. But it is his best option, because they are saying the airport in Santiago is still closed until further notice. So yesterday afternoon he called us with all of his plans. He is getting on a bus this morning, driving over the Andes, crossing into Argentina, where he is boarding a private jet to Brazil, where they will drop off a passenger in Sao Paolo, then on to Equador for refueling, then to Raleigh, NC where he will then get on a plane home to California. As we speak, he is arriving in Argentina hopefully where he will spend the night there then board the plane tomorrow morning home. He was able to call Suzie this morning when he got on the bus but won't be able to call again until he gets into Argentina. More waiting.
As you can imagine my weekend didn't go as planed. I spent the day vegging out in front of the TV and waiting for FB updates and phone calls from my bro and Suzie. I didn't get to do my long run as I just had no desire or energy to do anything like that. After we heard of the plan to get him home, he told us all to relax for a while. It was hard though, because he kept posting on FB about all the awful aftershocks he was feeling. Ari decided we needed a change of scenery so we headed over to Santa Cruz where I ran about four miles and took Lilly to the beach. It was a nice distraction. My legs felt like lead, but I think that was more due to the fact that my heart is heavy.
I have a very close relationship with my brother. He is one of my best friends and I am so lucky in the sibling department. We are lucky people. We say it time and time again. I had no idea my weekend would look like this. My brother survived an 8.8 earthquake, we are all healthy and happy, no one in our family is at war and we all have roofs over our heads. We are lucky people. I drove into work this morning with a new set of eyes. We are really blessed. Not just by material things but by how rich our lives are with one another. My heart goes out to all the people in Chile who have been hurt by the quake. None of them were lucky enough to be staying at a 5 star hotel that was built so well.
I am still on pins and needles and will be until we hear he is safe in Argentina and then safe on American soil in NC. Life is so precious and short, I hate that it sometimes takes catastrophic events like this to remind us.
I'm at work today, I don't know how much good I will be. But I can't sit at home and watch the TV anymore and I know that he will be okay. We are all planning to head to Sacramento on Wednesday to wrap our arms around him. Argentina in the south where he is heading isn't in the best situation as far as security goes right now. There is some turmoil there and safety might be an issue. But he will be staying at another nice Hyatt there until he boards the plane Tuesday morning.
Since this is a running blog, I ended the week with a miserable 36 miles. No long run. That's okay, it was a hard weekend and my heart was somewhere else. I was going to do a recovery run today but I might add some miles on and start the week off right. February was a good month for running, I haven't added up the miles, but I think they are high. I may not PR in Boston, but I think I'll survive.
I haven't read any blogs yet, so I hope you all had awesome races and long runs. I'll leave you all with a few pics of our trip to the beach yesterday - it was beautiful. 65 and not a cloud in the sky. I live in the most awesome place: 4 hours to the snow and Tahoe and 40 mins to the beach and Santa Cruz! This is why my property taxes are so high!
Sorry this was so long, but as you can tell by the title, I am still in shock and worried. Thanks for reading as always and I will keep you all updated on his safe return. Happy Monday peeps and Happy Running.