Monday, October 16, 2006

Shaken, Not Stirred

I will warn you right now that this post has nothing to do with wine -- unless you count the fact that the whole experience made me long for a comforting glass (or bottle, or two...) of red wine on steady ground. If you have been following my blog at all you may recall that I was in Hawaii this past week for my brother's wedding, with a little R&R to follow. Yesterday was to be our last day on the Big Island of Hawaii and what a day it turned out to be! Apparently even Paradise doesn't come cheap these days.

It was just after 7am and I was awake (it's tough to sleep past 7am when your body knows it is 1pm at home) but struggling to get some more shut-eye. All of a sudden I heard a large boom and the building began to shake. Wake up call! Thinking that it must be an explosion, I lurched up in bed and peered out the sliding glass doors to see what I could see. Nothing. It was all very surreal. The next thing I (vaguely) remember is my husband screaming "it's an earthquake!” Should I crouch on the floor (I think I did) or is that for a hurricane, or a fire? All rational thought had left me.

"In the doorway", my husband yelled and grabbed hold of me. We made our way over to the bathroom doorway where it seemed we were both holding on to the door frame for dear life. The hotel was literally being shaken roughly -- back and forth, back and forth -- in a very jagged and violent motion. We were both breathing hard as if we had just sprinted in from the rain. It felt as if the rocking was going to go on forever. In reality, the quake lasted less than a minute. When the motion and the racket subsided, we looked around and saw that the television had catapulted out of the TV stand, the drawers were all flung open and our toiletries had been tossed off the bathroom countertop. Conspicuously, a large bowl that sat atop the TV stand had not moved an inch. Apparently we had just experienced a 6.7 magnitude earth quake.

It was difficult to know what to do once the quake had abated. We went outside as my parents were in the room next door. They were out there too, wondering what to do. Our plan was to get dressed quickly (in an act of absurdity we all put our bathing suits on) and head outside. No sooner had we made the decision than the building started to jerk back and forth once again. Now we were all grabbing our outer door frames. Not again! My mother screamed “I am getting out of here!” -- a call to action of sorts. When the aftershock (5.8 in magnitude) passed and we were all safely out on the lawn and on higher ground we all had a good laugh over the “every man for himself” nature of her proclamation.

The hotel, the Hapuna Prince, did a good job of getting guests out to a safe place on the property. Although there was not much communication about what was going on, they did provide plenty of water and, eventually, food, for everyone. Stories were shared and there was some camaraderie over the fact that we were right smack dab at the epicenter of the quake and no one was injured. There were a few more small aftershocks that we could feel and, although people were certainly rattled, the aftermath was relatively calm and panic free. Humor is always welcome in these situations and at one point an old man sauntered by and exclaimed, almost to himself, “I wouldn’t sit under any coconut trees, I'll tell you that.” Hmmm, good advice. Forget the wine, bring me a martini!

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