It’s been awhile since I’ve written here due to moving around a lot and lack of Internet. Most recently there was a 7.9 earthquake in Gorkha, Nepal about halfway between Kathmandu and Pokhara (the country’s two largest cities). The damage is exponential, razing buildings, homes, and world heritage sites to the ground. A lot of the Nepalese holy sites and history was demolished in minutes. The aftershocks continue to this day.
I’m one of the lucky ones, and my story is not as exciting as some others, but here is what my recount of being in Nepal during the 7.9 earthquake 2015. We were in Bardiya National Park when the quake hit (I’ll write more on the park later). The park is on the eastern side of the country and quite far from the epicenter (roughly 475km). I felt both the first earthquake and several subsequent aftershocks. For those of you who don’t know, aftershocks can be the real harm when a large earthquake hits, because they can last for days, even weeks.
We were leaving Bardiya to catch a tourist bus to Mugling and then a second bus to Pokhara. The bus was taking quite some time and stopped a lot. I believe it was because of the conditions of the roads and the after shocks (it was taking longer than the normal stop and go of buses in Nepal). At many of the stops there were lots of Nepalese glued to the TV news. The images were horrifying. I didn’t need to understand the language to know that the numbers on the screen were death counts. As of this posting the death toll is over 4,000, and the number is expected to rise.
Mugling is only 30km away from the affected area. Once we learned what we were getting ourselves into, we quickly decided to change plans. With the help of a local Nepali (on his way to recover his son who was studing in Kathmandu), we were able to get off the bus in Butwal. At the time we left Bardiya, we were with a French tourist who was staying at our jungle bungalow. We told him our plan, but he decided to head forward to Pokhara. That was three days ago, and I still haven’t heard any news from him. I hope that he is ok.
We managed to find a guesthouse in Butwal at 3am and got some rest. Around 12:30pm the next day we felt another after shock and had to run out of the building. Hundreds of people scrambled to the streets. This intensity, and we were still 180km away from the epicenter. The depth and breadth of this quake is catastrophic. Evidently the fault line hasn’t been disturbed since the 1300s.
After the dust settled, we caught a bus to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha. It’s much quieter here, and the tension is much less. There are a lot of tourists here for Buddhist monasteries and to leave the country as there is a border crossing nearby. Many people we’ve met had left a Vipassana meditation to learn the reality of the disaster. What a way to end 10 days of silence!
Our friend, Coey, is in Kathmandu. Once I managed to get Internet to alert my family and friends regarding my safety, I messaged Coey to see if she is all right. Fortunately, she is fine. Below is her recount of the night after the quake.
“People sleeping in the streets in this cold rainy night, still keep being waken from the small earthquakes all night long.. Worrying about whats happening after… Hearing no news from Nepali government… Wondering if they still have to go to work or go to school tmr… Worrying about their friends and relatives who they still cannot reach… Feeling hungry as no shops open and it’s not so safe to stay home so no proper food…
Was sleeping in a park and kept feeling earthquakes happening underneath. Even if you moved to a place with cover becauses of the rain you worried more if the cover will fall down when big earthquake happened.. Women screamed whenever they felt the quakes.. Peoples from other countries in Kathmandu worried about the situation and so eager to go back to their homeland..
Numbers of death keep increasing at any moment…
Feeling scared is very normal… I guess all humans do… But being surrounded by all this negative energy, hearing all these horrible news… you just got affected a little somehow and became even more emotional, no matter how calm you were. Even at this second, i dunno whats gonna happen next, what i will do next… Life is never predictable. So let’s face it positively and prat for all the people affected. Stay strong!”
Right now, Tiago and I are going to stay in Lumbini and lay low until the after shocks stop, and it is safe to travel. There is lots to do here, such as staying in a monastery. We will later attempt to volunteer with any credible organization willing to accept non-skilled workers. There is not much we can do at this point but take care of ourselves and keep the lines of communication open.
I ask that everyone reading this post to send their thoughts and good vibes to the beautiful people of Nepal who desperately need aid. If you are able to, please donate to a credible organization, such as Red Cross International, CARE, or Doctors without Borders. This devastation will affect the country for years to come.