An Earth Quaking Experience

Expecting a day of rain on our third day in Chile, we were pleasantly surprised when the skies cleared and the sun broke through. Our destination for the day was Chiloe Island, Chile where we were set to ride a chartered boat out to see the Magellanic and Humboldt penguin colonies and their breeding grounds. This is a fascinating geographic location as it is the only place in the world where 2 species of penguins coexist together in harmony.

Our first step was to take the 45-minute ferry ride over to the island from the Puerto Varas area. On our ride, we saw sea lions, dolphins, and even some penguins poking their heads out of the water! The anticipation to arrive at the penguin colony in only a few short hours was growing. The ride over was a scenic beginning to the already fair-weathered day.

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Once we arrived on the island, we jumped back into the van and headed toward the coast. About 10 minutes into our ride, our guide stopped at the top of a hill for a picturesque photo opportunity. Alec, our family-deemed professional photographer, hopped out to snag a shot of the landscape overlooking the hills and channels of the island. After Alec exited the van, I realized he had left his phone in the vehicle. I jumped out to deliver it to him. Leah and my dad decided to join the photography brigade, and the three of us crossed the road at the same time. As I pulled out my own phone to take a picture, my dad commented, “Why is this bridge moving?” It was then that I looked around to witness the asphalt moving and bending around us. I yelled, “We’re not on a bridge!” Everything suddenly began to feel as if I had walked onto a swinging suspension bridge with no handholds. Like a sudden jerk back to reality, my dad yelled, “EARTHQUAKE”. We spun around to see the van shaking violently off the ground from side to side, while the wheels were jumping back and forth like a buckin’ bronco at a Texas rodeo. My mom, brother, and sister-in-law were still trapped in the van. Concerned that the van could roll down the hill at any minute, we all rushed toward it. By the time we arrived, the earthquake was losing momentum. It lasted about 6 seconds but seemed like forever. Our guide immediately dialed out to check on the status of the quake. He informed us that it was a 7.6 on the Richter Scale with the epicenter less than 80 miles from us. This occurred around the city of Quellon on the exact same island where we were located. After checking that everyone was safe and only a little “shaken up”, we jumped back into the van to continue our route. The vehicle was abuzz with conversation about each of our experiences in the moments during and after the quake. We were also in shock at the realization of our proximity to the earthquake and our chances of having been in the wake of the quake at just the time we stopped for a photo opp!

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This was the picture I took seconds before the earthquake hit

As we continued along, our guide received an unsettling alert on his phone. Since TSUNAMI is the same in Spanish and English, we all knew what was going on by this point. There was a tsunami alert for the entire coast line. All of a sudden, every car driving toward the ocean pulled over to the shoulder and turned around to head in the opposite direction. It was like watching an end times movie where people look like rats scurrying away to safety, and I had an eerie feeling about it. Of course we turned around too and headed to a Chilean family farm we had planned to visit later. The farm was located on the top of a hill around the town of Ancud.  On our commute to higher ground, we saw people walking up the sides of the street with rolling suitcases and everyone evacuating their houses carrying as many items as possible. Until this moment, I had never understood the fear and urgency that accompanies such terrible natural disasters.

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Evacuation

We made it to the farm where we ate a lunch of clams, pork, mussels, potatoes, sausages, and chicken all cooked underneath the ground like a Hawaiian luau.

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We spoke in broken Spanish with the farmer’s daughter, Carol, about the agrarian life they led. Throughout the meal, we constantly heard the tsunami alerts going off on phones like a symphony of terror every time. After many walks around the farm and house, we had worn out our welcome and were feeling restless. 

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Carol!

It was about this time when everyone got word that the tsunami they had warned of never made it to land. There was a sigh of relief and you could feel the tension loosen in the air. We headed toward the ferry port to ride back to the mainland. Even though we were told the tsunami alert was over, we continued to look over our shoulder toward the ocean as we sat on the top deck of the ferry. Thankful for safety, we arrived at the mainland, but I know none of us will soon forget the earthquake and tsunami of Christmas 2016. So travel tip #53, when someone asks you why is the bridge moving…. Always check first to make sure you’re on a bridge.  Happy unpredictable, earth-shaking traveling!

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The Edwards-Vinsant family is safe and sound
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My Top 10 Favorite Travel Items

I had a minor setback with blogging thanks to my computer crashing, but I will be getting Iceland blogs out soon. With the holidays coming up, I thought it would be a good time to share great travel items with you in the meantime! Lately, I have had many people asking me what is the best down jacket, water bottle, socks, etc. and I decided to share some go-to gear from my travels. I am kind of a snob when it comes to the products and gear I use because the best items really make a huge difference. Every person has a different preference when it comes to travel items and what works best for them, but I thought it might be helpful to see what someone else uses to get ideas. With the holidays coming up, you might even be able to get some gift ideas for the wanderers at heart!

  • S’well Bottle: One of my favorite products I stumbled upon a few years ago (I like to pride myself in finding this before it got popular) is my S’well Bottle! Sadly, my first one got left on a plane a few years ago, but now Alec and I have a total of 5 Swell Bottles. We love them. They keep cold water cold for 12 hours and hot drinks warm for 24 hours. It is so refreshing to take a cold drink of water after a long hike up a mountain. When I use a regular water bottle now, I can’t handle the lukewarm water. Not to mention that the Swell Bottles come in the CUTEST patterns. I absolutely love mine!dpp_0276
  • Smartwool Socks: These were the BEST discovery about 4 years ago. I always wanted my feet to be warm but never wanted to wear wool socks because they are ITCHY! Well, Smartwool designed a product that is soft and not itchy at all. These socks have extra padding in the heels for long hikes and also help to regulate temperature. They wick away sweat to keep your foot dry and clean. These socks can literally be worn a few days in a row before they need to be washed (aka great for traveling light). I have even convinced someone to love these socks who was against wearing wool socks!img_2990
  • The North Face Down Jacket: I personally love my North Face down jacket. It fits me perfectly and slim while still giving room to wear layers underneath. It isn’t too bulky, but keeps me really warm. It is also great at regulating temperature so when the elements change, I’m not constantly having to change my clothes. It even kept me warm when we visited the glacier lagoon!dpp_0218
  • Patagonia Fleece: I personally love Patagonia’s fleeces better than their down jackets. Their puffers always seem to fit me weird and are not flattering, but their fleeces are the most amazing you can find! They are comfy, soft, and warm. You can throw them on with whatever you’re wearing. I definitely recommend them as a gift idea for anyone!img_1911
  • Merrell Hiking Shoes: I just love Merrell a lot. Their hiking shoes are GREAT. These shoes have taken my all over the world to Machu Picchu, Costa Rica, the Amalfi Coast of Italy, Iceland, and soon to be headed back to South America! They are so comfortable and give great support for your foot. They grab onto slick surfaces wonderfully. I would have slipped and fallen too many times to count if I had not worn them in Iceland.dpp_0073
  • Lifeproof iPhone Case: I just recently got my first Lifeproof iPhone case to use in the rugged environment of Iceland. We were going to the Blue Lagoon so it was necessary. Alec even dropped my phone in the mineral-rich water of the lagoon, and the case kept my phone safe and dry. This case proved to be very valuable while we were traveling considering how much it rains in Iceland. I loved still being able to take my phone out for pictures even though it was misting or we were walking under a waterfall. Definitely a great investment if you plan to be traveling in wet climates!fullsizerender-1
  • Osprey Backpack: Alec takes the cake on this one. His new backpack is amazing. It is so lightweight and carries a ton of stuff. We were able to pack a lot of extra items in it. He even carried the tripod around in it all week! He was a valuable pack horse.img_1099
  • Ray Bans: This is one of my snobbier suggestions, but you can’t beat a good pair of sunglasses. I don’t know if I can ever go back to $10 sunglasses now that I have experienced the clearness and comfort of Ray Bans. They are amazing. End of story.img_1132
  • Columbia Rain Jacket: I have had this rain jacket for about 5 years, and it is still going strong. It is a basic rain jacket, but it gets the job done. I love it and I’m so happy that it has stayed in such good shape this long!fullsizerender
  • Canon DSLR Camera (Rebel SL1): We invested in a “nice camera” when we realized we had some extra Amazon cash lying around in our account, and it was one of our best investments. This camera is so small and light-weight that it is great for traveling. We could easily store it in our backpack or hang it around our neck with ease while exploring all day. We are still learning a lot about our camera, but we did finally master a few pictures of the majestic Northern Lights!img_2168

Hope this helps while you are searching for gear to take on your own trips! Good luck and safe travels 🙂