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Guatemalan earthquake

November 7, 2012

We left San Antonio early this morning on a chicken bus bound for Quetzaltenango (nicknamed Xela) in the Western Highlands.  After about two and a half hours we arrived safe and sound and found a taxi to take us to our hostel, Casa Renaissance, near the city centre.  About 10 minutes after arriving we heard some low rumblings and then felt the floor beneath our feet and buildings around us begin to rattle and shake quite violently.  At first I held the girls close to me under a door frame but then we quickly scurried to join Tanya in the open courtyard of the hostel.  The ground seemed to be moving around as we stood there with the other people in the hostel, almost like being on a ship in rough waters.  The movement lasted probably 30-40 seconds.  The power went out right away and has just come back on about an hour or so later.  Fortunately the hostel kitchen has a gas cooker so we were able to make some tea while we waited for the power to come back on.  One of the other hostel guests went out to the street and heard from a taxi driver that there has been some damage in Guatemala City, perhaps even some people killed.  There was minor damage to the hostel, with some plaster falling from a wall and a light fixture breaking in one of the rooms.  Apparently the earthquake had an estimated magnitude of 7.4 and was centred just off the Pacific coast of Guatemala, about 115 km from where we are now.  There is more information on the BBC News website.

Did you hear about the huge earthquake in Guatemala? I was in it. We'd just arrived in this new hostel and like 20 minutes after we arrived the earth starts shaking. Me and Sierra are like, "big deal, an earthquake." Then mama tells us to get outside, so we do. It was really cool because the windows were all rattling and it felt like we were on a boat. The ground was actually moving!!! Later it was all on the news and everything and apparently it was the biggest earthquake since 1976 or something like that. It was strange because I wasn't actually scared while the earthquake was actually happening but afterward I was when I realized that while Sierra and I were laughing and having fun that other people in Guatemala were dying.