Guatemala Earthquake – February 4, 1976

Hi, so, if you’re in Southern California, you most likely felt the 6.4 earthquake. I certainly felt it right before putting the first bite of breakfast in my mouth. It’s Fourth of July, and we have plans with my family to celebrate it with a typical American meal, hamburgers, and hot dogs.

And then came along Mr. Earthquake today. When there’s a large enough Earthquake, I try to be there for my parents. The reason behind it, the Guatemala 1976 Earthquake.

Most Americans take earthquake lightly. Some even find it funny. Naturally, I understand why. We really haven’t experienced a disastrous earthquake, like in Chile or Japan. I am an American, but my parents kind of passed on the fear of earthquakes to my siblings and me. That and I remember the 1994 earthquake, 6.7. I was a kid, and I thought it was the end of the world. At least, that’s what it felt like in those times.

In Guatemala, the 1976 earthquake killed about 25,000 people. My parents were in that earthquake. My dad tells part of the story as follows, “The dogs howled in all the neighborhood the whole night before we got hit by the earthquake, and the sky was red, like blood. It was like the end of the world. The earthquake shook up and down, like a basketball.”

My mother, on the other hand, talks more about her experience after the earthquake, she must have been around 13 years old. She walked with her mom around the neighborhood. The sidewalks were filled with dead bodies-friends, relatives, and neighbors.

Everyone had to run out of their homes, adobe made homes. My dad’s home fell apart, and my mom’s, part of her house fell too. Everyone had to rebuild afterward. If you meet a Guatemalan in their late 50’s or older, they are terrified of earthquakes. I am no expert, but I believe they might suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Guatemalans also tend to make jokes about everything, to the point of dark comedy. It’s a mixture of despair and laughing at it at the same time. Therefore, growing up and listening to the stories of my parents, other relatives, or their friends, the stories were followed by laughter. As I kid, I used to think, “Why is that funny?”

Moreover, I have to admit, I do get a bit nervous during any kind of tremor. My mind starts thinking about the many possible adverse outcomes that come from an earthquake. However, I have also learned to calm down, and try to think, “It’s okay. Just get your shoes on. It’s all fine.” My panic mode mind, that I grew with, battles my mind today, the one that thinks about calming down. Honestly, I am proud of myself for learning to manage stress as a grown up.

So, to end this blog. I’d like to say that if you’re in California, simply stay alert and safe. Experts claim that we have an 80% chance of expecting another big earthquake once again in the next few days. I hope not. But, if we do, I can only pray that we don’t experience any significant damages.

Be careful with your pets today too, please! Happy fourth of July!

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