Yesterday was quite a day. It started with my friend Steve arriving in town for a trip we’ll make this weekend. I met him at the front of my apartment building and I’m really not sure, if you saw us and were pressed, which of us you would say had just come off an international flight. I noticed, through the thin t-shirt and shorts I was wearing, that it has gotten chilly. It was about 45 F (7 C) and gray.
After installing Steve in the apartment, I sat on the balcony for a moment and noticed that several of the peaks in the range nearest Santiago are now adorned with snow. They were shrouded in cloud since my return from Mendoza and the snow was not there prior to my leaving. Walking around the city, I’m encountering more and more leaves on the ground and the trees outside my apartment have faded to a pale green. It isn’t the fall of North Carolina, with brilliant reds, yellows and oranges but it’s clearly autumn now.
After class, just as I was packing up to head home, we had the biggest in a recent series of earthquakes. After Saturday’s quake, there were many aftershocks, some stronger than 5.0. I felt some, not others. In any case. As I was sitting in my office, checking email before packing up to head out, another quake started up. It started slow and built and then suddenly jumped up. My colleague and I had a nice chat about earthquakes and how he was just about to buy an apartment high up in a building. You feel them better higher up because the buildings are designed to sway. Our offices are on the first floor (second in the United States) so we didn’t sway much. But we swung to and fro for a little while. Long enough to converse about it and economics. Fun.
There was no damage at all in Santiago. USGS says the quake was actually two quakes, not too far apart, just off the coast west of Valparaiso. The first was smaller, shallower and this first quake knocked something loose a little deeper and that gave us a bigger quake. Depending on who you ask the total magnitude was either 6.9 or 7.1. There was no damage reported in Valparaiso nor here in Santiago. Santiago was quite far away from the epicenter. My office desk is not a firm, sturdy thing. It also has several pens scattered about. These didn’t move. The point is, it was not a big deal here in Santiago. I was glad to learn that Valpo wasn’t damaged as it is significantly closer.
We’ve felt a number of small aftershocks and expect to have a few more before this recent series concludes. Hopefully, we’ve had the big one in the series.
Then I walked home. And it was fantastic. The sky displayed clear mammatus clouds, tinged orange on the underside by the dying light. The near mountains were ablaze with the same orange against the backdrop of more distant mountains dark and gray. What had happened was that the cloud cover over Santiago did not extend to the horizon in the west but very close. The sun, just before it sank beneath the horizon, as it hit the horizon, had a clear shot to light up the clouds and the mountains. It was very much as if Santiago was a darkened theater and the mountains and clouds a stage set for an opening number. And, then, very suddenly, the lights went out. And then it rained. Fantastic and as unusual as an earthquake.
Crappy iPhone pictures of a beautiful world.
Mountains on fire.
The past week in Chile.
So it was that Mother Earth put on quite a show for us in Santiago on Monday.