April 16, 2022 – Portoviejo, Ecuador – Tonight while having a coffee and a milkshake and a corviche with a friend, (I had been birding all day and was hungry!) I noticed that he kept looking at his phone. We had discussed this historic date, one that is branded in every cell of every person who experienced the 7.8 earthquake of 2016 that killed over 600 people.
Each person has a unique story, and Arturo said that when the earthquake hit, he had been playing futbol with friends. A three-story building crashed to the ground and barely missed them. He ran home to check on his mother, who was alone. The door was jammed, and he kicked it open. She was safe, to his immense relief.
He told of ‘earthquake lights’ in the sky and said, “I thought it was the end of the world.”
Various people from Jama (130 kilometers north) told me similar stories about the sky appearing strange just before the earthquake hit. They also thought it was the end of the world.
At 6:58 pm tonight, Arturo showed me the time on his phone, and we most likely joined thousands more who paused and remembered that horrific evening. Partners with others around the world who face wildfires, tornadoes, flooding and war, we realize that material assets are of little importance – it’s the ones we love that are top of our concerns when tragedy strikes.