I'm from Mexico City and lived in the U.S. for a total of more than 24 years. Now I'm back in Mexico. I realized I was seeing my country through the eyes of a native stranger. This is an attempt to process the differences, to explain Mexico to the U.S. and the U.S. to Mexico. With digressions along the way.

sábado, enero 01, 2005

OK in India

As a little inspiration to donate to a Tsunami relief fund, here's an email from my friend Sam:

"Hey everybody,

I'm alive & well, up in the north of India in
Dharamsala (home of the Dalai Lama) - hundreds of
miles away from the tsunami that struck the south of
India & other SE Asian countries. Thanks to everyone
who wrote & was worried. I'm sorry I haven't been in
contact sooner, I've been away from the internet fer
quite a while. I'll send out a proper dispatch with
all my recent adventures soon, but wanted to get this
out asap. You may remember me mentioning Cov from my
second dispatch - we were really worried that he was
dead, since his plan was to go to Sri Lanka to go
surfing on christmas (Sri Lanka was the worst hit
during the tsunami). Amazingly, he's alive, and I'm
attaching an e-mail he sent out recently detailing his
experience. The death toll has now reached 119,000,
and will probably continue climbing. Britta is right
now looking into flying down south to help with relief
work - I'll keep ya'll posted.

I hope everyone had a nice christmas, and has a great
new year.

Love, Sam

-------------

Cov's story:

I want to thank all of you who have e-mailed or called
my parents. I am OK, just really sad. I don't know
how my friends and I are alive--I'm still trying to
remember what happened, but all I can hear is the
sound of wave and shattering glass. We had just walked
from the beach where there was a huge sweep of sand
and into a restaraunt composed mostly of windows.
Right after we walked in we looked back and the water
was lapping up on the porch, but it all looked pretty
harmless--kind of like a lake splashing the shore.
People started running out, but I walked back to get
my flip flops which I had taken off a the front. They
cost about $1. I just didn't understand what was
happening. I mean, there was no warning. It all seems
so dreamlike now. Anyhow, a wave came crashing in and
the tables out front just exploded into the windows
and the water came racing in. All I can hear in my
head is the sound of wave and smashing glass. Still I
was confused, and kind of figured it was a tidal surge
caused by the full moon. So as the waves came in, I
jumped up on the wooden bar that was swept violently
in to the corner of the room. One more window was in
tact, and I was wedged between it and stackes of
bottles--cokes and beer and stuff. There was this 85
old man Sri Lankan man who owned the place and he was
quite a fixture, always asleep at a table after having
eaten breakfast. His chair swept past and I was able
to wrestle him onto the bar. Buildings were collapsing
all around me, but I didn't notice. I am traveling
with two of my close friends--now I feel like they are
brother and sister--and Simon climbed up a tree and
Rachel, she ran off. Simon was yelling at me to get
out of there as roofs were falling, but I couldn't
hear b/c I am so deaf, and, like I said, building were
being swept away. But I was wedged in the corner and
the water wouldn't let me out. Plus, glass was
shooting pack and forth in the water in sharp pieces
like huge knives. The window was right in front of me,
and I had this old man to deal with. The window
finally crashed on us, but I only got a few cuts is
all--I don't know how. With that I was sucked out, and
I managed to hang on to the old man. I held him afloat
with my head below water, coming up for breaths.
Another wave rolled though, and I lost him. He just
sunk right there, and I didn't see him again until I
ID'd his dead body that was wedged under some debris.
The water finally receded, and I got my bare feet on
the ground and got out. I don't know how, but my feet
only got cut up a little bit, but I didn't feel the
glass in my feet until this morning. My friend Nathan
and I searched through the rubble, while Simon
searched for his girlfriend Rachel. Parents came back
crying hysterically searching for infants and
toddlers, and frantic spouses for partners. Everyone
took to the hills expecting another series of waves,
which did come, but later, fortunately. We found a man
wedged naked and face down under a roof frame. A few
of us managed to pry him loose. He must have been
stuck there under water for a long time, but managed
to come out ok. Rubble was everywhere. It was at 8 am
so a lot of people were sleeping in their bungalo's
after a x mas night party. No telling how many were
stuck. One family escaped through the roof b/c you
just couldn't open the door with all the water in the
room and pushing from outside. Simon came back and
said he couldn't find Rachel. We searched everywhere
for the next three hours, going to all the hills and
the more elevated areas, but couldn't find her. We
managed to keep it together pretty well throughout the
process, Simon more so that me, really. We found her
finally and just laid on the grass on a hill sobbing.
People were naked having lost everything--no money or
passport or clothes-- Sri Lankan mothers beat the
ground with their fist screaming, houses were totally
washed away, businesses smashed. Nothing on the beach
was left standing. We are still trying to figure out
why, you know, the mechanics of the waves that hit
us--they were not the crashing type that blasted all
around us like dynamite, but more like the rising,
surging type. Had they been of that nature, we would
have been dead instantly. I don't understand it at
all. Why? Just up and down the beach bodies were lying
by the road, buses were turned over and cars were in
trees. Boats were all over the roads.(People had been
out diving, snorkelin and surfing--Simon and I planned
on getting up early for a surf, but overslept.) The
water smashed 3 story buildings, in some places
washing 2 km's inland. Our guest house was up a hill
away from the beach--we had decided to stay there b/c
the family owners were so nice, but a few days before
we almost moved to a little shack right on the beach
which was obviously pulverized. Anyhow, afterwards we
packed up our dry belongings and sat on the street
looking for a ride to Colombo, the capital. All the
gas stations were wrecked so every driver was out of
gas, or their car was totalled. A huge truck drove by
with an 8 member family in the cab. I flaggged them
down, and they asked if we were going to Colombo, and
I said hell yes, so we all loaded into the flat-bed.
We drove inland b/c, of course, the roads and bridges
were destroyed. After a 7 hour trip we made it to the
airport at 2 and managed to get out on the first
flight to Bangkok at 7. We didn't sleep for two days
or eat much. Power and phone lines were down, but I
was able to text message my parents which made me feel
better. But we were in shock for a while afterwards.
We were just stumbling around last night virtually
hallucinating b/c we were beyond sleep, really. It is
just hitting us today after having seen the footage.
Sri Lanka got hit the hardest, and when it's said and
done, I can't imagine how many will be among the dead,
but it will be much higher than the numbers indicate
right now--I'm guessing 3 times as many or more. We
feel really bad that we left them like that, but we're
trying to figure out what we can do. So many lives are
ruined. The homeless survivors...I don't know how
they'll rebuild or with what--they don't have
insurance here or anything remotely comparable to it.
We were thinking that we could help by telling people
like you what we saw, and encouraging folks to make
donations to the Red Cross or some relief
organization. Sri Lanka is the poorsest country hit, I
think, and they are just emerging from a long civil
war. The toursit industry really just took off at the
end of the fighting. All the Sri Lankans were
apologizing to us! People who had lost everything were
apologizing to us. They kept telling us not to forget
about Sri Lanka. So we are safe trying to find all our
other friends who are scattered around Asia on the
islands--everyone went to the islands for X mas.

We are trying to see if we can go back to do anything
to help, but I don't think we'll be of much assisance.
Our thought process is that we would consume
resources, diverting food and water from the Sri
Lankan people. But we're looking to see. Otherwise,
I'm flying home Thurdsday, and I'm ready.

Thanks again to all those who have reached me somehow.

Cov"

The official death count is now up to about 145,000. Thanks to all the people who criticized and pressured Bush, he upped the US contribution to 350 million dollars. No props to him, since he wouldn't have done it on his own, but props to Japan, who is donating 500 million, and to all the other generous countries and people who understand the necessity of humanitarian aid.

Work on making this a happy New Year, everyone!

1 Comments:

Blogger Amardeep said...

Great missives, Nayeli. Your friend in Sri Lanka -- wow.

BTW, nice to hear that you're doing well in Mexico city. I'll be reading through your archives soon to find out a bit about what you've been up to. Keep it up!

1:13 p. m.

 

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