I had many fears and anxieties about coming travelling, but one thing I hadn’t even considered I should be scared of was natural disasters.
Last night whilst eating dinner, a huge magnitude seven earthquake struck Lombok, 38 miles North from Kuta Town where we are. We felt it very hard. Everyone ran out of the restaurants into the street, staff running in to the back to grab their children. After it had stopped, we just went to sit back down to dinner, but everyone seemed to be fleeing around us. It didn’t click for us that we were at risk of a tsunami. We started running away from the coast with everyone else, but it was clear we needed a faster mode of transport; luckily a pick-up truck loaded with people was pulling out of a hotel, and someone shouted at us to jump in the back too. We drove a few minutes inland, to higher ground, where we then waited. It was a terrifying few hours. Finally the message came through that the tsunami warning had been lifted.
We’re feeling very lucky; escaping with just an egg on my head from leaping into the pick-up, and one phone down. We assume Elliot’s phone was flung from his pocket in the chaos, but it’s just an object, we’re OK. It looks like the earthquake has devastated much of the North of Lombok, where most buildings lack proper structure and are made with weak building materials. It’s heartbreaking knowing it’ll take these people years to rebuild their lives.
I had two hours sleep last night; I’m not sure if we were feeling aftershocks or just imagining it via exhaustion and adrenaline overdose, but we kept thinking the ground was shaking, like there was another earthquake starting. We’d leap up every 20 minutes or so and head outside, only to realise it had stopped. Very scary, not something I’ll get over quickly I feel.
Im feeling even more fortunate after seeing how badly the Gili Islands have been affected; we were there just days ago, and last night 1000 tourists had to be evacuated by the Indonesian Navy. It had crossed my mind that there’s no high ground in the Gili Islands, so it would be terrifying having no immediate escape.
I’ve had a little sleep this afternoon, but my hypersensitivity to movement means I wake up startled every time a lorry goes past on the main road, or Elliot turns over on the bed. I’m so tired I can barely think. I hope I sleep better tonight but I’m not holding my breath; at least I have the luxury of being able to leave here in two days time and be free from the risk and anxiety, unlike the locals who have so much suffering left to endure.
I actually managed 5 hours sleep last night, albeit very broken. We had two large aftershocks, which we had to run outside for, but other than that the ground was just quivering ever so slightly, pretty much constantly. My half-wake, half-dream state, the state that makes you feel like you’re falling so you jolt violently in bed, still kept making me feel like the ground was violently shaking. I think that’s something I’ll get over when we’re in a safer area. We slept in our clothes again, and had evacuation bags packed and ready by the door, so we were as prepared as we could be.
We tried to have a relaxed day yesterday, and will do the same today. Seeing the town operate pretty normally is reassuring, so sitting in a cafe is one of the best places for us (conveniently!).
Yesterday actually turned out better than planned. We took a walk up to a view point; a point we were told we should evacuate to had we not been picked up by the pick-up when the tsunami warning was issued. The views were beautiful, but it was bittersweet. I only took four photos here in Kuta; the first three are from when we first arrived, and the last from that tsunami evacuation viewpoint.
We’re leaving Lombok today. I feel exhausted, drained, and traumatised, but happy to be able to leave. I’m excited for a stress-free nights sleep, as I’ve been so on edge and deprived these past 3 nights. We’re going on to Labuan Bajo in Flores, where we will be doing a tour of Komodo Island to see the dragons, so we have that to look forward to. Hopefully it’s a smoother ride from here on out!