Saturday, September 18, 2010

...and then the Earth trembled!

Wow...what a week! In the past week I've experienced many new, interesting, exciting, and scary things. There was a skunk in my kitchen that made me scream, a family of raccoons visiting our trash bin (mind you now that I've made friends with one I kinda like seeing these guys around), a ginormous four inch cockroach crawling by outside (these guys on the other hand are not welcome), bright green frogs having sex on a leaf in the yard, and frog eggs from said frogs hanging on said leaf in a gelatenas clear substance the next morning (cool). But nothing was quite as amazing as the tremors I felt on Thursday and Friday.

It was my first time to experience an earthquake (tremor, really, but to me it was pretty significant). The entire house shook. I just so happened to be getting dressed (it was around 9:30 in the morning) and had to run outside to a safer spot topless...good thing we don't have any close neighbors. The house we live in is built on the side of a mountain, and there is a fault line running through Cobano and a seismogenic plate that lies beneath most of the Nicoya Peninsula. This area is basically where two tectonic plates meet under the surface of the Earth: the Coco Plate and the Caribbean Plate. Apparently the shifting of these two plates is what causes the earthquakes and tremors, and sometime in the future a very large earthquake could destroy the entire peninsula. I'm not so sure what it all means, but that's what they say. It seems to me the whole area is sort of in a constant flux, especially the tip of the penninsula where I live (Montezuma, Cobano, Cabuya, Mal Pais, and Santa Teresa). The mountains drop at a steep angle down to the coastal areas, the terrain is rough, and at any time landslides and topographic changes are possible. I guess that explains why the roads are so bad, because paving them never seems to last that long. As the land changes, so do the pothole prone roads.

The tremor was Thursday morning and it reached 5.3 on the Richter scale. There were apparently more than 6 more aftershocks, only one of which I felt. Then came the flashes in the sky. Thursday night as we were going to bed we started noticing some lightening in the sky, but there was no thunder. Heat lightening I suppose. We went to bed but kept seeing these flashes of light outside the window, so we got up to watch the storm. But it wasn't raining and there was still no thunder, just continuous flashes of light with the occasional bolt of lightening going sideways across the sky. I have never seen so much atmospheric activity - the flashes continued with less than 5 seconds between them for at least a couple of hours. It was truly unbelievable, kind of beautiful, and a little bit frightening. We are living in the beginning of the end of days, after all. Who knows what could happen, or what's normal anymore.

Again on Friday morning there was another big one, 5 point something, and then again this morning around 3 am, 4 point something. During both of these I was sleeping and I didn't feel anything. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I guess I'm a good sleeper like my dad. :)

So...aside from mother nature showing me her wild side this week, life has been pretty normal. It's midterm exam time for my students, so now we will really see who's got the dedication to pass the test and finish out the semester. I think most of them are going to do just fine, and I'm making an extra effort to do a whole review class so they are well prepared for the exam. The weather has been surprisingly really beautiful lately, with several full days of sunshine this week which means I got in a little beach time. Last weekend we spent in San Jose again, this time because I had to take the car in to pass her technical inspection, which after spending hundreds of dollars in repairs and borrowing a tire from a similar car at the local mechanic's, she passed by the skin of her teeth (now there's an interesting idiom to use in my classes...any ideas where that one came from?). Now that Geovanna passed inspection and we are getting close to finishing the rainy season, I'm considering selling her and keeping the quad come November. I've been planning to sell Rubi (the ATV), but in reality she is much more fit for getting around on these roads as long as it's not raining: she's newer, has fewer problems, and she's built for off-roading (or on-roading in Costa Rica). Plus she can go a lot faster, and she's a lot more fun to ride! She's perfect for the dry season, and since I'm thinking I probably won't stick around for the entire year next year, she's probably my best option. Yes, that's right, I'm currently considering wrapping things up here in May or June of 2011. But no promises. There are still a lot of things that could happen between now and then...

And there you have it. Hasta la proxima, pura vida!


  1. Hey I just recently experienced my 1st crazy lightning show, too! The experience sounds a lot like yours, except I was watching the lightning hit the crater of a volcano - it happened after Volcan Poas erupted (about a month ago). I did some research and found out that there is actually a phenomenon called "volcanic lightning" that explains what I saw. I think you were maybe seeing the same thing, too - isn't there an underwater volcano near Mal Pais?
    That was definitely one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced - living in Costa Rica really puts things in perspective as far as how small and fragile we are compared to the power of the Earth!

  2. I used to live in Costa Rica and miss it so much! Now I living in England. Love your older post about tico slang - how I miss 'Upe'!

  3. I linked to you today :)

    XO L