Prior to knowing that we were pregnant with our daughter we had already started to explore a February 2010 holiday in Chile so hearing the sad news Saturday
my other half and I gave each other a sideways glance as the story of the massive magnitude 8.8 earthquake rolled onto our television screens.
The epicenter was 200 miles southwest of the capital Santiago and the force of the 7th strongest quake ever recorded shook the area for 90 seconds. Sandwiched between the Andes and the Pacific, and located on a fault line, Chile is prone to quakes, but this was the largest in a century and the force was felt as far away as Buenos Aires and even further east (1,800 miles) in Sao Paolo.
February is considered the end of the holiday season in Chile and our planned trip was to centre on the capital of Santiago and the wine regions west and south of there in Casablanca and Maipo. South of here
the wine areas of Curicó and Maule have been badly affected but naturally the focus is on search and rescue although wineries will be crucial to the area’s long-term economic recovery.
In 1960 Chile suffered terribly at the hands of a seismic wave when the world's strongest ever quake with a magnitude of 9.5 triggered tidal waves and volcanic eruptions, leaving 1,655 dead and two million homeless. Two years later Chile still managed to hold the World Cup Finals using just four venues and I'd hope their national national team will get a lot of neutral support in South Africa this summer although one can only wonder at what their preparation will be like
Saturday' death toll is now over 700 compared to 230,000 in Haiti even though the Chilean earthquake was far more powerful. Far superior building codes, a GDP about has far apart as you can imagine and a shallower intensity of the earth movement are all reasons for this but however one feels for the impoverished Haitian's Chile no doubt will be left mostly on it's own to recover. No collections, no US military help and no foreign humanitarian agencies flying in to the countries airport.
But hopefully recover it will as this beautiful and heterogeneous country of Chile is still on my bucket list and I'm as keen as ever to sample it's wines, it's mountains and it's culture.