Saturday, September 24, 2011

shake, rattle, and roll

Earthquakes are not new to me.

Most people do not think of Oregon as earthquake country.  It is.  It sits on the same ring of fire that circles the Pacific coast from Japan to California.

Admittedly, I have never experienced a Japan-style quake.  But I have had my share of tremors.

So, I should not have been surprised last Wednesday night when I felt a jolt while talking on Skype with a friend in Oregon.  And that is all that it was.  A jolt.  As if the floor had moved underneath my chair.

But it was noticeable enough I told my friend: “I think we just had an earthquake here.”

And we had.  I asked the members of the local message board if they had felt anything, and I got my answer with a referral to the Mexican Servicio Sismologico Nacional.  It is a great site.  You can find information about every earthquake in Mexico.

Here were the results of my search for September.  (You may need to click on it to read the details.)

We have had six earthquakes this month.  All of them small.  The one I felt was only a 4.1.  I completely missed the next one -- six hours later -- at 3.9.  But I would have been in bed.

We have had several noticeable tremors since I moved to Melaque.  When I was staying at the house on the beach, I missed most of them because the waves pounding against the shore would create enough shaking that earthquakes were impossible to notice.

But Melaque has not always been fortunate enough to experience these minor tremors.  Almost exactly sixteen years ago on October 9, 1995, Melaque experienced an 8.0 earthquake. 

Even though the epicenter was in the mountains east of Manzanillo, the earthquake was strong in enough in Melaque to cause a visible wave across the ground and to spawn a small tsunami.  You can read more about it on TomZap.

Last April a friend of Billie’s wrote to ask about the Hotel Casa Grande -- Melaque's crown jewel.  Well, crown jewel before October 1995.  It tumbled apart in the quake.  That is it at the top of the post.

But the photograph is not from 1995.  It is how the hotel looks today.

Not unlike the property title fight that enlivened Tenicatita a year ago (and for the prior thirty years), a dispute still rages over who owns the hotel land.

The location would be great for a new hotel.  But that is not going to happen until all of the parties can agree on who owns what -- or until the courts intervene.  And that is not going to happen soon.

So, the hotel sits there like our own enigmatic Olmec ruin.  Summing up far too well how Mexico can wear its tragic history as a burden rather than an opportunity.

Perhaps, we just need to wait for the next big earthquake to act as a physical -- and perhaps, social -- leveler.


Sparksmex said...

Sadly or not ... the courts are not going to intervene in Ejido business unless portions of the Ejido have been normalized and titles issued.   None of that end of Melaque has been normalized as far as I know.

And yes the PNW does get some good shakes

sparks said...


Steve Cotton said...

You, too.  Are you about ready for another lunch?  I may need a refresher on where that auto air conditioning shop is in Las Brisas.  I am getting air, but not much conditioning.

Steve Cotton said...

I suspected that was the case.  I have wanted to do a post on the hotel dispute for some time, but I have just not got around to doing my journalist footwork.

sparks said...

Me too ... is I can't remember my 'Disqus' login .... but I do remember where the air conditioning shop is.  Does not require a lunch but Email or PM on TomZap.   'Course a lunch is always welcome but am busting butt getting my place ready to live in as my house sitting job is over in a month.

Or drop by for water volleyball Monday or Thursday

sparks said...

About 7+ years ago I wanted to do a post/blog on the hotel before it came tumbling down.  A woman on TomZap said she had fotos of it in it's grandeur but I never heard back from her.    Never have found fotos pre '95

Steve Cotton said...

We may have to sit and share our information.  There is a good post in it, I am certain.

Steve Cotton said...

Maybe after you are moved in, then.  My truck has managed to survive this long.

Felipe Zapata said...

It's both amusing and pathetic how often land in Mexico has uncertain ownership. Sometimes characters sell property to two or three people at the same time, collecting money from all the "buyers."

Steve Cotton said...

In this case, it is ejido land -- with all the attendant problems.

Marc Olson said...

You awake some interesting memories. Having grown up in Alaska, I am pretty accustomed to quakes, and the average minor temblor doesn't excite me too much. I remember feeling one while staying in Barra de Navidad, right there near you, sometime in the early 90's. 

In August, 1995, when I was first looking at places to settle in Mexico, while staying again in Barra, I took a good look at Colima. I really liked the town, particularly its proximity to both mountains and the coast. Two months later I was back home in Alaska when I heard about the big quake. Some of the interesting old houses I had just looked at in Colima had fallen to pieces. After that I started looking around is less-seismically active areas. That search ultimately (although certainly not for that reason only) led me to Mérida.

Steve Cotton said...

I had thought of living in Colima, as well.  While looking at a Google map of the area (to determine if it is outside the Star Trek-sounding Forbidden Zone; it isn't), I noticed the old flows from the volcano heading toward Colima.  They reminded me far too much of lines to Harry Truman's lodge at Spirit Lake.  Having grown up with Mount Saint Helen on the horizon, I was not too willing to live in the shadow of a volcano.  Irrational?  Perhaps.  But I now live in Melaque, instead.

tancho said...

Growing up in the city, we were accustomed to shakes.  I am always amused at people who go bananas when they feel one. 

Steve Cotton said...

Of course, some of those tremors create banana shakes.

LeslieLimon said...

Earthquakes are the one thing I don't miss from sunny Southern California! :P 

Steve Cotton said...

You should live here.  You would think you were in your old state.