This country is already trying to kill us

A big earthquake ‘quaked its way to a 7.6 magnitude off the coast of the Philippines about an hour ago. Tsunami warnings went up immediately across the pacific, as far away as Japan (who I think are a bit hyper-sensitive about “The T Word” these days, all things considered), and, of course, Indonesia.

It’s funny, a lot of the time, when you are considering a big, scary life-altering move, the reasons for it being scary are things like culture shock, or being taken out of one’s comfort zone… not scary like a gigantic tidal wave coming at you, generated from the earth rubbing against itself thousands of kilometers away. The reasons it’s life-altering is because you are forced to live in conditions you might not normally encounter, not because it is altering your life from the precious “alive and kicking” state that I’ve grown accustomed to, to its factory-default setting.

Now, before anyone gets worried, we’re not in any danger. Because the earthquake happened off the coast of the Philippines (which for those of you who are geographically challenged, is on the very eastern edge of the major island gatherings in Southeast Asia), we’re pretty safe here in the west. Also, Bogor has an average elevation of over 250 meters above sea level, AND is pretty far inland, so there was really no worry for us at all.

In fact, as I’m typing this, the tsunami warnings have been cancelled for Indonesia.

But the fact still remains, this country has WAY more ways to kill us than the one we just left did. The reaction that goes through your head when you see the words “Tsunami Warning Issued For Indonesia” when you live in Canada is NOTHING like the reaction you have when you actually live in Indonesia. You get an immediate pang of adrenaline… or at least I did. S was asleep, and I found myself letting her know, despite the fact that the only reaction I got was a muffled “hmmm” as she rolled over and stole some of the sheets. I think I let her know just so that I could say it out loud, like it was a real thing. A real thing that can be deadly, that I’ve never had to deal with before. Your head gets cleared almost immediately, and I was on about seven different websites, tracking the development of the warnings until I could be safe knowing that I wasn’t about to test my Blue Survival badge in conditions that the Nepean Sportsplex could not have hoped to replicate for proper tsunami swimming techniques. I had a pain in my gut too, though I am not ruling out the overcooked beef jerky we had for dinner as the culprit on that one.

So we’re safe and sound here, nothing to worry about, but it’s a bit of a reminder that as we are so far from home, there are a whole series of new things over here that we have never even given much of a second thought, let alone having them become very real things that can have very real consequences. I’m sure there is a metaphor there somewhere about how we need to be aware of our new surroundings if we are going to make the best of it here, but I just spent an hour tracking tsunami patterns and I’m exhausted.

Oh, and speaking of natural disasters that could kill us, do yourselves a favor and DON’T google “Indonesian Super Volcano” or “Lake Toba”. It’s not worth the stress that reading about it will cause.

All the best to you all, and best wishes to anyone in the Philippines who has evacuated already.

-B

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