Saturday, April 28, 2007

Quaking in Kent

In Guatemala 5.4 would still be a temblor, not a terremoto. They are reasonably regular occurrences and hardly make the national news, let alone the international. But this is England and few Canadians would recognise what we refer to as a blizzard either.

Earth tremors are of course comparatively unusual in the British Isles, and who can criticise the good folk of Kent if they felt a surge of panic this Saturday morning when their boiled eggs toppled out of their egg cups.

The first tremor I experienced in Guatemala was a mild one. I've described before on this blog my amazement at how everyone around me just carried on eating their lunch. Douglas Adams's famous phrase "reality's on the blink" sprung to mind.

Apart from the big El Salavador quake of 2000, all the 6+ tremors I have since been shaken by have occurred in the night (or indeed the afternoon) whilst I was asleep. And as they tend to be of short duration, each was experienced amidst those strange few seconds of rebooting consciousness where the mind is awake but the body isn't...which generally adds to the weirdness.

Sure enough, the day I turned up in Guatemala last month I decided to take a short nap after unpacking. I was woken by a lick to the chin from the dog and immediately noticed how the house was wobbling. These were the last big throbs of seismic angst emanating from the Volcán de Fuego, which had been fuming angrily for several days before my arrival. After rousing me, Jin proceeded to go on a tour of the whole house checking each room in turn, obviously very concerned.

Update: they are now saying that this morning's tremor measured 4.3 on the Richter scale and there are reports of people trapped beneath collapsed IKEA furniture.

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