About a month after the April 16 quake, on May 18, we decided to venture up to Manta to the Supermaxi. We had donated supplies for the convoys going that direction, but we had decided to stay out of the way. All reports were that things were cleaned up or cordoned off, and that businesses needed customers, so it was time to go back to our normal routine.
By the time we went up, most of the tent cities in Manta had been dismantled. The people who had been living in them had been moved to shelters in different places. I'm sure there were still some in areas we didn't go to, but we didn't see any.
The area where the street vendors were set up, sometimes called the cholo mall, was completely destroyed. The buildings at the head of the area had completely fallen in on themselves. The ones directly behind them sustained heavy damage.
The street vendors were relocated onto the main road to the modern-style mall.
This mall only had minor damage
Lots of damage and buildings that had been condemned, but others that were up and running.
The paint store sustained heavy damage, but the paint can remained intact.
After doing our grocery shopping, we stopped at Kentucky Fried Chicken. The multi-story building center across the street was full of workers on most floors, working to repair the damage from the initial quake. As we were eating (and after the to-go order had also been filled), the building started shaking. As everybody started running, I was unable to move quickly. I didn't exactly freeze, but I just wasn't able to react, even though I really wanted to. It was over by the time I stood up. The construction workers next door were running down, and many of them came in the KFC we were in, several of them in tears. It was a 6.8, still considered an aftershock.
When we got home, the neighbor girls ran up to us immediately upon coming through the gate, asking if we felt it.
A couple of weeks later, on May 30, we decided to take a trip up to Quito. A few days sightseeing and not coming across earthquake damage would probably do me good. On the way, we drove through Portoviejo, another of the areas that suffered major damage.
We were commenting about how we expected more damage, and how their fire house fared much better than ours, when we got to the center of town. Much of downtown Portoviejo is cordoned off, and only construction crews are allowed in the area. Traffic was detoured.
The paint can in Portoviejo didn't fare as well as the one in Manta.
In some places, mounds of dirt had been piled up so heavy equipment could get high enough to finish knocking down the buildings safely.
The modern-style mall suffered only minor damage. We stopped at this mall to pick up dinner on the way home. There was cosmetic damage on the inside, but nothing major.
The roads had some problems. There were spots where the road had fallen away.
In many spots, the concrete seam in the center of the road had split.
The most disturbing part of the roads was at the bridges. For almost every bridge, the road on either side of the bridge sank and broke away from the bridge. The bridge, however, remained at the same height (except for the one that collapsed). By the time we got there, road crews had built up ramps to reconnect the bridges to the road.
As we drove through El Carmen, there was significant damage there, too. (We needed gas, so we didn't take the bypass.) I wasn't able to get a good picture (because of the rain and my unwillingness to get wet), but the roof collapsed over the church in the middle of town.
The Ecuadoreans are working hard to clean up the mess left by the earthquake and keep everybody safe. Hotels, restaurants, and other businesses are open and begging for customers. Lots of expats have decided to move out of the country and away from the Pacific Rim, and property values appear to be stagnating or dropping because of it. Things are settling in, and life is getting back to normal, but the economy is suffering.
As soon as I can, I'll post about our trip to Quito. The whales are back in Puerto Lopez, though, and I need to make sure I get on a boat to go see them.