Monday, March 28, 2011

"Mother Earth wants us all the leave"* Tsunami experience: Part 2

Okay, so sorry to leave you in suspense for so long...where did I leave off? Right, right...French Polynesia, island of Moorea, tsunami sirens blaring in the wee hours of the morning. The hubby and I throw on some clothes (I remember to put on a bra, but totally forget about undies!) and grab the essentials: passports, a large bottle of water, medication, and some peanut-butter crackers (a pregnant lady needs her snacks).

On the way to the lobby we hear some people talking about taking a car up to Belvedere Point. Given the high-stress situation, I managed to refrain from laughing at them, but going to Belvedere Point would have been some serious overkill. Even if we had gotten a tsunami anywhere close to as big as the one that hit Japan, we wouldn't have needed to go to one of the highest points on the island.

(This is the view from Belvedere Point. Way higher and farther from the water than necessary. When we had talked to the manager the night before, he had said worse-case-scenario, we would have to go up the resort driveway to the road.)

In the lobby, the manager makes an announcement that a tsunami is expected to hit about 6:00 a.m. and that all guests must go to the restaurant area. They don't specifically say it, but we get the impression that it's more precautionary than anything else, although some guests are starting to look very nervous. (Apparently, they didn't have the luxury of a prealarm freakout like I had!)

We are actually allowed to go back to the room where we stow our luggage as far up in the closet as possible (just in case). We pack all our valuable electronics and some books and stuff in our backpacks (I still haven't realized I'm not wearing any underwear) and head to the restaurant.

The next several hours are...well...pretty boring. I stare at the water, trying to detect any kind of measurable change, for so long that my eyes start to hurt. The resort staff gets the breakfast buffet ready as quickly as they can given that it's still early enough that breakfast wouldn't have normally started yet.

The only indication we ever get that an actual tsunami hit us (I think we technically got two tsunami "waves") was when the water level in the lagoon went down just enough for some coral too poke out of the surface. A group of self-proclaimed geologists were sitting near us and they got all excited when this happened and starting documenting it all on their camcorders.

(That stuff sticking out of the water to the right of the palm tree is the coral that normally is under water. That was our only visual cue that we were in the middle of a tsunami.)

By about 9:30 a.m. the warning was over and we all got to go about our day in tropical paradise (and I finally get to put on some underwear!). So, like I said in the last post, it was a lot of build-up with little payoff thankfully. I'm okay with having experienced a tsunami measured in inches instead of feet.

But there are still a lot of people suffering from the aftereffects of the earthquake in Japan. And that is why I've decided to donate $1 to the Red Cross for every person who comments on this blog post (up to $100). Thanks in advance to everyone who comments...I really hope to reach the maximum!