Today was a weird day. We woke up at 7 am to a blue sky and a beautiful sunrise over the field across the street. It was nice and cool as mornings can be and it really did promise to be a great day.
Until 11.30 am. While I was working on the computer (trying to resolve insurance issues), I heard a sound that was very unfamiliar: fire. When I looked out of the window the white smoke hid the field across the street and flames were eating away the dry grass. I asked E. (who works here in the house for us) if this was a normal situation. You have to remember: this is Mexico, things I think are strange are sometimes perceived as absolutely normal here.
While we were staring into the flames, she said that no it was not normal, but she was sure that someone else would have called by now. I asked her how she knew? The point of course is, if everyone thinks the same thing, the fire department is never called. She then pointed out that there was a school, some office buildings and a lot of houses across the field, and since the flames were heading that way, someone surely would have called. My next question then was how long it would take for the fire department to respond. She answered calmly ‘Oh a while, they have to come from the center of Veracruz’. What? That is about 15 minutes away, everything could burn down before they get here! People could die! E. wasn’t too impressed and while she was looking at me (ah gringo) we heard the sounds of a fire truck in the distance.
It was only one truck, and, from what we could see through the smoke, one guy with a hose. In Holland you’d see 7 fire engines, 3 ambulances and a lot of police, all with sirens blasting and their lights flashing. Not so here. The fire fighter got to work and while he was extinguishing the fire we resumed our daily life.
About 10 minutes later I started feeling really light-headed. In my experience that means trouble; I get it when I am seasick or when I drank way too much, in both cases usually right before vomiting. This was strange, I was not at sea, nor had I drank too much. I looked outside; the lonesome fire fighter was still out there. Then the lights started swaying slowly from the ceiling… Earthquake! I translated the word in Spanish (has not come up in any of my lessons (yet?)) and yelled ‘¡Terremoto!’ to E. with exclamation marks and all. Standing in a doorway we were trying to analyze whether we really were experiencing an earthquake or whether we were just idiots. We heard the school kids running out of the school: evacuation! So we were not idiots and not the only ones wondering what to do. I mean: is it safe to send out the kids during an earthquake when the field they have to gather on is on fire?
Once the trembling was over I tried to call D. Their office building was evacuated as well. He had tried to call but the lines were busy. Then our line died; since I could not call him back it turned a bit spooky. Fortunately our Internet was still working, so I could go online and find out what had happened. Fortunately, although the quake was strong, so far no serious damages or casualties have been reported.
So, again we went back to our daily routine. I have to call D. back, because I forgot to ask him whether he´d be home for lunch.