I have been living in Rome for just over a month, completing my studies and decided to visit my mom for the weekend, as I do every two weeks.
On Thursday, the 20th of October I went to Termini station after my English lecture, bought a ticket and got on the train to Foligno, about a 2-hour ride. I got into my mom’s car and we drove a further 45 minutes to Camerino in central Italy. When we arrived, we had supper, showered and watched a bit of TV before heading to bed. I spent the weekend, doing some homework and helping my mother at the hotel she works at. On Saturday, I felt so ill. I had a high fever and a very congested nose. I was sick and instead of heading back to Rome the following Monday, I stayed in Camerino and planned on staying in bed and resting until I felt better to head back to Rome; however, my plans were about to receive a reality shake of note.
On Wednesday, the 26th of October, I was laying on the couch watching Gilmore girls and Friends and while my focus was on the TV, I kept seeing a flashing light outside. For a brief second, I thought someone was on our property grounds but when I peered out the window, I found that it was raining and the flashing lights, were lightning. The thunder sounded off, powerful and loud and shook the earth a bit; that’s when I felt an uneasy feeling in my gut. I had a very bad feeling, yes I still am afraid of thunder, but this was another feeling.
19:11 – I was still on the couch, when the next moment, the house shook. The earth spoke, it’s powerful and muzzled earthquake sounds.
I got up and ran to the door, screaming “No!” “Nooo!!” I turned and turned the dial on the door as fast as I could and it eventually opened and I ran out. I was all alone at the house. My heart was pounding so fast and loud; I was terrified. I peered through the open door and say my phone on the ground, I ran in, grabbed it and ran out again, dialed my mother and she was on the way. I stood outside in the cold wet rain, shaken and afraid for 10 minutes until I saw her car. We went back inside the house, thinking it was just an aftershock of the earthquake from August. My mom prepared pasta, we ate and I made tea.
21:18 – We watched the news and they were interviewing a seismologist, who confirmed that it was an aftershock and will likely not happen again. As soon as those words came from his lips, the lights went off. The quake was back, angrier and stronger than before. I ran towards the door, my mother followed. We could not see a thing, I heard plates and glasses breaking and I yelled out “Mooooom!!!”, they door finally opened and we ran out.
It was black.
We could not see a thing, yet we ran. We stood still and listened to the earth move. The sound was stronger, almost like a pair of hair clippers chopping through someone’s hair, but more powerful, dangerous and louder. I thought the house would crumble.
Then it stopped.
My mom was standing outside with the blanket we had over us and the iPad; used as a source of light. After a huge debate, my mother ran in to get her car keys and ran out again. We got into her car and drove off. It was probably one of the hardest tasks that my mother had to endure as we were afraid.
We followed cars to the university sports ground, not far from my mother’s house, which has now been converted to a shelter. I was still too paranoid and we slept in my mother’s car for 4 nights. The last night, we got cold and decided to have faith in the building and sleep there. A lot of the people have been evacuated to Civitanova and Porto Recanati for safety as there are no serious quakes there, only small tremors. Since the first quake in August, there are 15 000 people who are now homeless and living in shelters. These quakes are not done yet, we just had another one, 15-minutes ago. The damage is surreal and it will keep getting worse until God knows when.
To make matters worse, there are people who use this terrible time to ransack fallen houses and buildings. The city entrances are blocked off by the Carabinieri (Italian police), yet some folk are crazy and greedy enough to sneak into the city, rummage through the rubble and steal.
I think the thing that gets the people the most is that they won’t be able to spend time together with their family, under one roof, opening Christmas presents together and sharing that warm meal. I think that is part of the reason why most people are so sad. It is sad and not expected but the most precious gift in life is life. Although we don’t have much anymore, we still have a life and that is something worth celebrating and being happy about. The power of rebuilding and working together, building new friendships and seeing the positive in the rubble of negativity.
Updated details to come…