Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Big One

I was having a mother and daughter day yesterday, as my son was away all day playing competition sport. It was a chance for us to indulge in activities where men are considered nuisances. And what a day it was: 30 degrees Celsius, in mid-October. Earthquake weather, I remember my parents calling humid muggy unseasonal weather.
It may have been 30C out there, but the trees know it's autumn.
The plan was to go to the beach in the afternoon, but first things first: shopping! Among our favorite moments were when we spotted the perfect new curtain for her room - just €10 from the laiki (street market). We also found a reasonably-priced bolero-style denim jacket. "Can you imagine Daddy being here?" I said to her. "He'd tell you to wait until you go to Primark again to pick one up, a year away...". We had a good laugh over that one.

During our meanders, we came across a wine cellar which were selling wine that I had sampled at a wine tasting session (more on that when I write the post) so I bought a bottle of 2 MAZI (€10) to go with today's lunch (fresh fried sardines, at €4.59 /kg). Finally, we came home and made a fancy salad with supermarket lettuce which my husband complains is full of toxic pesticides (so we didn't leave any for him). I began frying the sardines which I'd bought at the supermarket (they have a fresh fish counter). 

"Dad wouldn't eat that either, would he, he says the ones sold at the fishmongers are fresher." 

When I first came to Crete, there was little in the way of lettuce available apart from Cos lettuce. Now, you can get pretty much any lettuce, and they are all being grown in Greece.

"Oh, that's because he can't force himself to admit that they all come from the same sea, and they are simply sold at different prices (the fishmonger is always more expensive) according to the amount a store purchases." ("And no need to tell him where you bought them from, either - they will taste the same either way.") Just as we were about to sit down and eat, I heard a weird sound coming from all parts of the house that seemed to come with a lot of vibration. It sounded a bit like this: "took-took-took-took-took-took-took-took", like a train that was trying to brake suddenly, and it just kept going.
No major damage was reported, but plenty of things dropping (like in this supermarket, whose upper level was closed due to earthquake damage), especially stones and rocks on the narrow roads next to gorges, and many stores needed to do a bit of cleaning up afterwards. The roads have since been cleared. A old man also jumped from his urban apartment balcony (he obviously remembered the advice he was given when a youth in his village: "Run out of the house into a field") and landed on on the roof of a car, which now has a nasty bump.
"Σεισμός!" said my daughter, and I told her to get up and come with me, as we made our way out of the house through the kitchen back door. We stood near the door frame on the balcony hugging each other, waiting for the earthquake to stop. That was a really big one, approximately 6.4 on the Richter scale. A friend described it as a viloently shaking jelly - and it seemed to last a long time... 

Thankfully, the earthquake's epicentre was in the sea, thankfully also at great depth. Although Crete, as well as Greece, is prone to earthquakes, the ones that occur in Hania don't seem to do great damage. This is because of the fortunate location of the prefecture, explained in this link. The epicentre of yesterday's earthquake was close to Gramvousa, whose landscape changed abruptly when a serious earthquake raised the peninsula by 4 metres many centuries ago. 
This rock simply rose out of the sea after an earthquake that happened nearly 2000 years ago - the black part used to be below sea level. (More photos here:
I never feel the aftershocks (there were at least a dozen), only the biggie. All's well that ends well. My favorite part of the earthquake (if you can have a favorite part in an earthquake) was when I could hear all the neighbours come out of their houses asking each other what was going on; it's a nice feeling to know you will be heard and helped, and thankfully, the damages were really minor for such a violent shake. Naturally, we did not go to the beach as we feared a possible tsunami effect. But the hot muggy unseasonal weather is set to continue today - there's still time to get an October swim in.

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