It was hard to hold back the tears that wanted to come rolling down my cheeks when I arrived to Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador exactly 15 days after the earthquake that destroyed entire towns. Arriving and beginning to see all the buildings cracked, glasses shattered everywhere and people out sleeping in tents really does break your heart. I couldn’t believe the damage. There were houses that you could see the insides because the exterior walls were destroyed. I went to Bahia with my dad’s friend, her husband and her parents. The parents were born and raised there. They knew every corner, every shop, so many families there who lost everything, including their own families and friends. Because of this, I got to meet a huge amount of people from Bahia, I got the chance to sit and talk to them, hear their stories and what was going on in the city since the earthquake. Going with people who knew the area was great but also heartbreaking (I am a crybaby – I swear I cry for everything) because I got to see the reactions of them seeing their town destroyed. It was the first time they had been there since it happened so they didnt imagine the damage to be as bad as it really was. Ecuador’s current President and hopefully soon ex- President is dragging the country to the ground. They’re headed to a communist nation if he continues to be President for much longer – because of this, there is a new law where everything that should be reported as news has to go through him. People in Ecuador didn’t know how bad it really is out there until they see it with their own two eyes because the reality is not being televised to them. My cousins themselves told me that they did not know how bad the earthquake was in other parts of the Ecuador until they saw the news from a CHILEAN channel. Thanks to the television package they have where they had access to channels from other countries. Isn’t that insane? Yeah, someone please take Correa off of Presidency. Back to Bahia, so yes, they had no idea how bad it really was out there and seeing their reactions and expressions to seeing everything they once knew just broke me into pieces.
After the earthquake, homes, hotels, and all buildings were inspected to see if they could survive or if they had to be demolished. Going around the city, it’s incredible how many buildings had either red writing on it, a yellow and white sticker on the outside of it or a yellow caution tape around them. All three of these things meant that the building cannot stay standing because it was dangerous and therefore, it had to be demolished soon. An entire school that was remodelled and set to open a few days after when school began didn’t even make it. That school will also be demolished, along with 90% of the buildings in Bahia. It’s crazy to think that the entire town will basically have to be torn down and then rebuilt again. This is a process that will most likely take years. One of the saddest things I witnessed was the elderly people sitting in front of their homes and watching as they got demolished. The face of despair that they had is something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. People had the chance to go in and get as much of their things as they could, that is if you were lucky…because some people did not have that chance.
The people of Bahia impacted my life. I have never seen a group of people who were just SO happy even after a disaster like this struck. You would think that after losing everything and living literally on the street, they would be depressed, discouraged, etc. I’m not saying they weren’t feeling anything negative…I’m sure many do in fact feel a certain way because at the end of the day, it is heart breaking to have to live this way. Situations like these really make you realize that life isn’t about the things you possess but rather LIFE ITSELF. It is about the people around you and the fact that you’re alive and breathing is what we need to be thankful every single day for. As long as you’re with the people who matter the most in your life – material things do not matter because that comes and goes. We were handing out a ton of food, canned tuna, sugar, water bottles, clothes and toys too. Everyone was just to thankful for anything they received, they were truly wonderful people.
I met this one family, who allowed me into their home to use the restroom. Shortly after, we were sitting at the kitchen table as he was sharing his experience with me while offering me food and water – mind you, I WAS THERE TO HELP HIM. From the very little they had, he was offering some to me. Guys, you have no idea how much I wanted to just cry at that exact moment, my voice was cracking because I was just in awe that people were just so giving, even after losing everything. It’s the most simplest & nicest things in the world that really make everything worthwhile. He was telling me that the moment that the earthquake happened, he literally thought that that was the end of his life – that the world came to an end and that neither him nor his family were getting out alive. Everything was shaking so hard that you could hear the glass shattering and things breaking everywhere, people screaming. Hours after the earthquake happened, you can feel the temblors and the cars making ruckus. It was like that for days and that people were still traumatized.
Graffiti and cardboard signs all over Bahia show anyone that the people of that town are staying in their city no matter what has happened. (You’ll see in pictures I post below) All over Ecuador people came together to help one another. It is true that when disaster strikes, humanity comes together. From the moment I arrived in Guayaquil and volunteered in a neighborhood Terra Nostra, where we loaded trucks to send to Portoviejo or San Vicente. We worked so hard to send over paddles for beds, canned food, dry food, medicine, you name it.
The stories I have heard about the Ecuadorian community makes me happy, it makes me happy to be Ecuadorian. People went to the supermarket with the little money they had to buy things to take to donation points in the city for the people in Manabi, the province really struck by the earthquake. The fact that people formed groups to travel out there and give things to the ones who lost everything. There are just no words for the amazing stories I have heard and witnessed in Bahia, despite the trash government Ecuador has right now. I’ll share something disturbing about the goverment, just so you have a better idea of what is going on out there. People take all sorts of donations to the center of donations where volunteers sort it out and pack them up to be sent away and somehow all of these donations ended up with stickers of “the government” – making it seem that they actually had anything to do with the things being delivered out there when that really was not the case. Heres a better one…men in uniform approaching the ones who lost everything and saying something along the lines of “Do you want these donations? do you want this water and food? Then sign this saying you will vote for Correa (current President)” Unrelated: THE CURRENT PRESIDENT IS TRASH.
The experiences I had in Ecuador were more than I can explain in words, a blog post doesn’t do it justice. The pictures you see in my blog, or pictures you have already seen do not compare to the damage that it is when you are there. The entire country of Ecuador will continue to be in my prayers – the beautiful souls that are up every day trying to help others and themselves, I’m praying for you and the hundreds of people who died in this tragic earthquake. Ecuador, you’ll get through this ❤️