Whose idea was it to build a country over an earthquake?

A couple of weeks ago I went to see a play at Matucana 100, a cultural center and theater in Estación Central. It was an “experimental” play called Historia Abierta. The play combines visual art, music, dance and acting to tell different stories about Chile, its people and its history. There were a couple of scenes that were a little too “artsy-fartsy” (as my Dad would say) for me, but overall I thought it was really well done.

My favorite scene, by far, depicted a couple in the south of Chile. They are standing at their kitchen counter chopping vegetables, and it is temblando, as they say here in Chile. The ground is shaking, but it’s not a full-out earthquake. So the couple is standing there, talking about the shaking and one says to the other, “A quien se le ocurrió construir un país sobre un terremoto?” Whose idea was it to build a country over an earthquake? But they don’t seem too worried. They just accept it as the way life is.

And then, it stops shaking. The woman starts to get nervous and looks at her husband then screams, “Un calmor!” Which is not a real word, but basically sounds like temblor and means a calm period without shaking. She starts to get hysterical and asks her husband where their son is. He tells her to calm down, that he’s with a friend playing in the street. Then she insists her husband go look for her kid in the street because it might be dangerous. She starts crying. Her husband comforts her saying, “It’ll be over soon, don’t worry.”

Then, it starts shaking again. And the couple calms down. They say “Thank God, the calmor is over. It’s finished.” They go back to chopping vegetables.

Obviously, this scene is an exaggeration, but I have to tell you, after February 27th, I can identify. The first strong aftershocks weren’t fun at all. They were scary and for me, even worse than the actual earthquake. However, after awhile, I just got used to feeling the little shakes every once in a while. A few weeks ago, I realized I hadn’t felt one in a long time, maybe a month or so. I started to feel nervous. Then I felt one, and even though it still freaks me out a tiny bit (I sit in my chair and calmly see how strong its going to be and contemplate opening my apartment door while my heart beats through my chest), after the fact I felt relieved.

A while ago, my boss and I were trying to decide where to go on our once a semester trip with the students. She said, “It’s still temblando in the South, I don’t know if we should go.” I said jokingly, “It will always be temblando in the South!”

In closing, I would like to show you this video that Margaret posted on her Facebook today. It’s a scene from the Chilean show Los 80s and depicts the 1985 earthquake, which was 7.8 on the Richter Scale, but its epicenter was closer to Santiago (for reference, the 2010 earthquake was 8.8, but its epicenter was farther south). I first saw this scene when it aired on TV, and let me tell you, it gave me goosebumps. Even though the February 27th earthquake happened at night, so the environment was a bit different, it can give you a good idea of what it’s like to be in an earthquake (if you’ve never been in one before!). Also, if you live in Chile, try to watch Los 80s. It airs every Sunday at 10:00pm on Canal 13, and it’s by far the best Chilean television I’ve ever seen.


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