J Alejandro Espinosa Herrera, DPhil Candidate in Politics, graduate from the University of Oxford, who receives funding from the Ministry of Science of the Mexican Government to pursue his Ph.D., expresses opinions that illustrate the local point of view on the recent tragic incidents in Mexico….
I was in Mexico City on September 7 when the biggest earthquake in a century to hit my home state, Chiapas, was felt. I was in a cantina. Everyone kept drinking. Mariachis kept singing. “Another mezcal,” said someone close by. As soon as my friends and I sensed the earthquake, we left our table but we couldn’t get out: staff blocked the emergency exit so no one could leave without paying their bill.
It was only after checking my mobile that I became worried. The earthquake hit 8.2 on the Richter scale, and its epicentre was in Chiapas. I called my parents as soon as it was possible. They described it as the worst experience they have lived through – no minor thing considering they endured the 1982 eruption of the Chichonal volcano and the 1980s debt crisis, when hyperinflation reached 159%.
I left Mexico City to be with my family, and I was in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas on September 19 when the seismic alarms began again. We thought it was a drill since we didn’t feel anything, but just like 10 days before, everything changed after a couple of minutes. My Whatsapp was suddenly full of messages from friends: “This was horrible, is everyone okay”; “Phone lines are down, I can’t contact my boyfriend anyone know where he is”; “I just saw a building collapse, I am heading there to help.”
Shaken and cracked
Being from a seismic region in Mexico, I have dealt with earthquakes all my life. My first memory was of a game. I must have been five or six and the teacher was preparing the class for a drill: “Don’t run, don’t shout, don’t push.” Of course, her pleas fell on deaf ears, and that’s precisely what we did once the alarms started.
My second memory is sillier. I was seven or eight, and an earthquake hit while I was taking a shower. It didn’t last long and wasn’t very strong, but I still ran out of the house … naked.
The third one, when I was nine, was the real deal: a 7.2 earthquake, and a night I would never forget. I was having dinner and watching TV when the lights went off. Seconds later, the whole world was shaking. Things began to fall to the ground; glasses broke and the walls cracked.
I left my room and my mom was already there, grabbing my hand. We got out of the house and headed to my grandmother’s place next door, where we were afraid she was trapped. We couldn’t walk and constantly fell to the ground. The earthquake seemed to last an eternity, and was so strong that the floor shone as if made of gold.
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