Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Earthquake destruction and renewal

Because I do not have any real photos of earthquake damage, I use this photo to illustrate the process of the earth's continuing changes, and the renewal of life. This is a photo of the wall of the Irazu volcanic crater, where nothing grows, with a lush valley of vegetation growing in the distance.

This is a photo of the Irazu crater taken from the same spot at the same time as the above photo. The top photo zoomed in on the top of the crater wall on the right side of the second photo to capture the crater wall with the clouds and valley beyond.

At the risk of getting too symbolic, the volcanic crater, like the earthquake that struck Costa Rica last week, is a manifestation of the destructive power of the earth, yet life, even lush vegetation, co-exists and grows along side the destructive power of the earth.

The rebuilding of the areas of the central valley of Costa Rica hit by last week's earthquake is underway, and people are rebuilding their lives. Some families have suffered the irreplaceable loss of loved ones. The newspaper reported yesterday that three more bodies have been uncovered, bringing the death toll to 22. An additional tragedy happened overnight early Monday morning. There were five more earthquakes around 3-4 on the Richter scale, which did not cause any known physical damage, overnight. Again, the earthquakes were limited to the immediate area near Poas Volcano. A 17 year-old girl became so stressed from the repeated tremors, however, that she died.

Although Tamarindo is a long way from the area of the earthquake, and the earthquake was not even felt -- physically -- in Tamarindo or the northwest Pacific coast resort area of Costa Rica, I am sure that all Costa Ricans felt or were touched by the earthquake emotionally. Costa Rica is a small country. The population is only about 4 million people, and the land area is the size of the state of West Virginia or the country of Switzerland. Although I am an American, I feel I can comment that that the Tico sense of national pride in the country's achievements is paralleled in a shared sense of loss in times of peril.

There are two stories about the Irazu Volcano that I would like to share in light of the photos above. Irazu erupted on March 13, 1963 on the same day that the late President John F. Kennedy was in Costa Rica to attend a meeting of the Organization of American States. For a small country, a Presidential visit and a major volcanic eruption were two major news events on the same day.

Irazu got its name from an indigenous word, Istaru, which means "mountain of thunder." There is a native legend that a local chief sacrificed his daughter to the volcano god, and during a later battle with a neighboring tribe, the chief called upon the volcano god for help. The volcano erupted on the enemy, and the volcanic mudslides destroyed the village of the enemy.


Sharon said...

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of life from this earthquake and that 17-year old girl who survived the quake but, lost her life later. These pictures really do show the bleak area surrounding the crater.

Jarart said...

It's these same destructive forces of nature that create the beauty of places like this. My heart goes out to those families that have lost loved ones.

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