Just Some Random Beauty

So, the weather has been a little weird here lately as we’re finally starting to transition out of the rainy season.  In the past week, we’ve had some gorgeous days, intermixed with some afternoon thunderstorms rolling in.

Yesterday started off pretty much the same, but around mid-afternoon, a light storm began rolling in.  I decided to take a quick break from work, open my office windows, and grab a few rays of sunlight before the clouds rolled in, and this is how Nature rewarded my timing:

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Tragedy and Resilience

On the evening of Saturday, April 16, the Ecuadorean province of Esmeraldas was struck by a devastating earthquake of 7.8 magnitude, followed by hundreds of additional aftershocks.  The main quake was so powerful that we felt the shocks in Cuenca, over 350km from the epicenter.  Over the ensuing week, the tragedy has continued to unfold, with death tolls approaching 700, thousands injured, and nearly 7,000 buildings destroyed or no longer safe for habitation.  Although headway is being made, even after a week there are still some communities who are unable to receive aid due to landslides and ruined roadways.  Also, as with any mass disaster, there was some looting, but that has begun to recede after 10,000 troops were deployed to affected areas.

One of the things that has struck me most vividly during this tragedy has been the incredible amount of solidarity the Ecuadorean people have shown.  As early as minutes after the quake, citizens (i.e. not professional rescue workers) were risking their lives to help neighbors and loved ones out of the rubble.  It was just unbelievable to me how quickly people leaped into action without debate, without second thoughts, without consideration of personal safety – just “Someone needs help, let’s go help them.  Now.”

Within hours after the quake, the rest of the country had also mobilized to help – there were volunteer-staffed donation centers set up all over Cuenca, gathering resources that were then taken to the coast by people driving personal vehicles on the often-treacherous roads.  People from all walks of life have stepped up, however they can, to come to the aid of their compatriots.

During my time here, I’ve developed a healthy respect for Ecuadorean society and mores, but I now have a much deeper appreciation of their sense of community and willingness to reach out when others are in need.  It’s almost as if the seeds of recovery were being planted even as the tragedy continued to play out, along with this unspoken resolve of “We will overcome this.” – I agree.