My First Earthquake in Arequipa, Peru

Arequipa had a 6.2 earthquake in the wee hours of the morning today, July 8, 2008. It was my first earthquake. I’ve lost my earthquake virginity. I don’t know which racket woke me up. Maybe my roommate’s childhood toys falling from the shelving unit at the foot of my bed. Or the glass windows next to my bed banging against each other. Or maybe the floor rocking my bed up and down, literally shaking me out of my dreams.

I leapt up, opened the door and stood in the doorway (I heard you’re supposed to do this in an earthquake). My roommates came out of their rooms at the same time as I did. My roommate’s toys kept falling from shelves and, unfortunately, my things also fell from the nightstand. The tremors gradually weakened and subsided. I was back in bed under the covers with the door closed before my roommates could even get to their bedroom doors. I fell asleep easily.

I’d forgotten about the episode by the time I got to work. I only remembered when everybody asked me if that was my first earthquake. I was like, “Oh yeah.” They said 6.2 was pretty weak. I agreed.

I learned you’re not supposed to stand in the doorway. You’re supposed to find “holes.” Like, if the whole building falls down, what will be a hole that you can survive in and be dug out. Laying next to the bed might work, as the caving roof would stop at the level of the bed, creating a hole underneath. Get it?


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