I’ve given a fair picture of the guesthouse earlier, so I’ll write a bit about the room and the bathroom I use. The room is small with a heavy, single bed on one side against the left wall. A foot and a half across from that is a big, heavy wood bunk-bed against the right wall. Between the beds is a small bedside table. The bunk beds are directly in front of the door which leaves little space at the entrance. So, if it’s dark and you hurry in, you’re sure to bang your head or break your nose against it! I did contemplate putting up a warning sign that read: ‘Peligro A 1 ft’ then dropped the idea.
There’s a wardrobe on the south wall and a big window makes up the north end. It offers no view except for a peek into other apartments if their curtains are drawn apart.
The second bathroom, which I use, is at one end of the tiny corridor into which both bedrooms open. It is small. The shower cubicle is a two and a half foot by three-foot rectangle with a shower curtain to lend it some dignity! I’ve yet to shower here. In fact, after I left the hotel I haven’t showered nor washed my hair! My greatest fear is being caught off-guard by an earthquake while I’m in the shower. Yes, not only do you think I’m yucky; I’m feeling that way too. But hey, I do have a wash! Why am I telling you this? I’m trying to show you how fear generated by the big quake made everyday activities so difficult for me.
Having said all that, I want to hastily add that this place may not be one I’d choose to live in, but it has provided me with shelter when I needed it. I am grateful I wasn’t alone in the apartment on the sixth level when the tremors and the tsunami alert happened. It was easier for me to run out here. I have only three flights of twenty-three steps to climb down.
Oh, by the way, the other bedroom and bathroom are many degrees better than the ones I’m using. All isn’t crowded and cramped in the guesthouse! Still, I’m glad I have the room I’m in. Surprised? Well, it’s because of the bunk-bed. Yes, the “peligro” one. Ranjit and Manu come down from the apartment to stay the night, and that’s so comforting.
This brings me to the Segura’s home in Miraflores. How I went there and why I went there has already been spoken about. But this is one place I cannot speak about as only a house; it is a home.
The Segura Home
This is a beautiful family comprising the mom, two sons, a daughter along with two dogs and a cat. Last but not the least is the nana or maid as we would say in India.
Roxanna, the mother is truly beautiful. By this I mean, she is attractive and also has a very large and warm heart. A quality she has imparted to the home and the children. She works as a manager with Avon and is very successful at her job.
Gabriel is the elder son and works with Ranjit and Manu at the Chile office. Although I haven’t interacted with him a lot due to his work schedules, he comes through as large-hearted, thoughtful and hospitable as his mother is. Javier, the younger son is doing his engineering in metallurgy. Since his college classes haven’t started yet, he’s usually at home and he knows a bit of English so we talk a lot. He’s friendly, caring and warm like the others. I like him.
Constanza is the youngest. She’s in school. I’ve only met her twice and then too for a few minutes. She’s as pretty as her mother. Daniella, Javier’s girlfriend, and I have spent an afternoon together. She’s a lovely girl; bright, lively, and pleasant. She’s studying to be a lawyer. The children here are brought up to be respectful of elders, a lot like it is in India.
This brings us to Mika, the bulldog. She’s one and a half years old, very cute in a bull-dog way and resembles a stuffed bolster. She loves to be petted and is jealous and demanding of attention.
The other dog is Benjamin (pro: Benkhameen), a six-and-a-half-year-old toy poodle. Very cute and exactly as his name suggests, like a toy.
Both the canines are friendly and I enjoy them. Martina, the cat, walks in and out at will. I was surprised by her friendly gestures. She gave me a good look before she approached my chair. Then she rubbed herself against my leg, hoisted herself on her hind legs while resting her forelegs on my thigh, she indicated she wanted me to pet her. I did, and she left satisfied a few seconds later purring softly.
Since I’m not particularly fond of cats, I figured she must have found some feline characteristic in me. Not very complimentary if I express it another way!!
The ‘help’ I’m told has been a part of the household for about twenty odd years. I can’t communicate with her very well, but she takes care of me when I’m alone in the house. A pleasant lady who reminds me of Lolita, my maid in India, and the way she used to look after me.
The house is big and spread out with a spacious living room done up modestly and tastefully. There is a formal dining area which isn’t used by the family daily. There are three bedrooms on the ground floor and one on the first level; all done up well and comfortable.
The kitchen is big and also has the dining table at which the family eats every day. There’s a patio or covered verandah behind the house. The living room opens on to it. This area is a very nice place to sit; either on the garden ‘jhoola’ seat or one of the chairs around yet another dining table!
The garden and lawn cover the rest of the land behind the house. It could be a house in Gurgaon or any other city in India except that it’s built with wood. Reminds me of the houses in hill stations like Shimla, Nainital; especially those colonial ones where the British lived.
This home has given me so much peace and tranquillity at this time when my nerves are so jangled. I am so privileged to have met these people. Thus I see daily the way God has opened doors for me and has literally carried me when I was faint.
I almost forgot to mention the blackout on Sunday.
We witnessed another very unusual thing in the night while we were having dinner; a power cut! There was a power cut that blacked out almost 90% of Chile. Power cuts per se are unheard of in Viña and this was unimaginable. Initially, we were worried that it had something to do with a quake in another region but immediately realized that if there had been an earthquake, we would have certainly felt it.
Later, we learned that there was some problem with the third grid, obviously a major problem. Given our experience in India, we were expecting to be without electricity for a day at least. We were proved wrong as power was restored in two hours!
I was glad the power cut coincided with our dinner time or else we could have been caught in the elevator as we left the apartment to go to the guesthouse. Now, that would have been frightening. We had returned to the apartment for a few hours and decided to have dinner in the comfort and familiarity of our home and that saved us.
If I had voiced this, Ranjit and Manu would have listened with half a ear taking it to be the wild imaginings of a terrified mind. But as it turned out, someone we knew did get stuck in an elevator and had a horrifying twenty minutes!
Mauricio and his mom (who stayed a while at the guesthouse) were in an elevator coming down from the sixteenth floor when the power shut down. They had no idea whatsoever what had happened. The first thought that came to mind was there had been an earthquake. I can imagine what a scary situation it must have been in that dark enclosure, suspended at that height.
They began to pound on the door. Somebody finally heard the racket and they were rescued after twenty minutes. When the elevator door was pried open, they found themselves suspended between two floors! Getting out was an ordeal, but they were happy to be able to get out.
P.S: I did start having showers in that small shower cubicle a few days later and enjoyed it. LOL!
Peligro A 1 ft………… Danger at 1ft.
Jhoola seat…………… A garden swing-seat made of wrought iron.