March 1st, 2010
11:00 AM ET

So, let me tell you about my Friday night

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/WORLD/americas/02/27/chile.quake.hawaii/smlvid.car.buried.afp.gi.jpg width=300 height=169]

Andrew Rubin
Special to AC360°

It is always when you least expect it, when reality starts having a seizure and you have to put your wallet in its mouth. That is what it felt like as I stood outside Bar Constitucion in the Barrio Bellavista neighborhood of Santiago at 3:30 a.m. early Saturday morning.

Out with some friends, we found ourselves standing in the middle of the street, the lights of the entire city going out in an eerie staggered sequence and a muffed sound – like a helicopter taking off at some distance - everything was completely unhinged.
The walk home was not an easy one; each step taken in nervous suspense, avoiding pieces of debris from fallen buildings, broken glass from busted windows, and exploded lamp posts that littered the sidewalks. There was no power anywhere in Santiago and it was suddenly much easier to see more stars than usual.

Fortunate is a word that I should be using more often and as the news of the destruction continues, though some of it I am finding to be pretty sensationalist, while most leaves me with an earnest sense of dread. Being fortunate is an important lesson being engraved into the back of my mind. The aftershocks or "temblores," just seem to stretch the point even further.

I came out of the experience perfectly fine, though my kitchen wasn´t so lucky. Bottles of wine, fernet, vinegar and whatever else we were keeping in the cabinet crashed onto the floor and mixed together into a stinky brown swill, heavily garnished with broken glass.

Older buildings have been heavily damaged but only a few of the newer ones share the same fate. The airport has seen so much damage that it has been rendered into the past tense. But through it all Chile seems to be prepared and incredibly well-suited to handle a situation like this. I am afraid to imagine what Valparaiso looks like right now considering its dedication to preserving its old-fashioned, world heritage site worthy architecture.

As I write this, people are struggling to cope with what happened not to far from where I sit. Here I am, puzzled as to what my next step should be.

Editor's Note: Andrew Rubin is an American living in Chile and working for a Oceana, an ocean conservation organization.  He lives and works in Santiago and blogs at chicodepez.wordpress.com.

Filed under: Chile Earthquake
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. kieraChang

    Earthquake after earthquake. I find myself asking, "when is it gonna end?" I might be preaching to the wrong congregation, but I'm gonna preach anyways. What's happening now is in the bible. He's coming!

    March 1, 2010 at 9:18 am |
  2. Isabel, Brazil •

    I wonder what is happening to our world? And why are we so fragile?

    The parents of a friend lives in Santiango and they are well, but the apartment has many cracks and they're afraid to stay there. How many people they are in this situation and they don't know if the structures of buildings were shaken.

    God help them!

    March 1, 2010 at 9:03 am |
  3. Eureka Lord

    After reading, I am still in awe.

    March 1, 2010 at 8:33 am |
  4. Isabella

    The word is "temblores", not "tremblores". It really bugs be when you're not even careful enough to check these things because you assume non-Spanish speakers only will read this.

    March 1, 2010 at 8:24 am |