Lessons Before the Quake

On April 10th, a massive 8.6 earthquake hit off the coast of Indonesia. We where two big, flat blocks off the beach in Ao Nang Thailand, staring down the barrel of  a possible Tsunami. This is what happened the day before, April 9th, on the tiny island Koh Jum:

A 120mm double exposure of Ganesha and a cave opening. The statue was located on our escape route.

Linzays toe got in a head on collision with a table leg. Twisted and bent in an unrecognizable way. No fatalities, but it left her a little slower than usual.

By Thai time it was early in the morning – eight am.We recount the story to the boat driver when he sees her foot. He is Hei, or at least thats what I remember his name being. Hei is an everything guy, the forever smiling boatman/waiter/carpenter/gardener of our little thatched hut Pearl Resort.

“Tsunami.” Hei rolled up his tattered pant leg, buried underneath is a simple but brutally jagged scar. The pink line, contrasts sharply with his ocean browned skin. Linzay and I dont really know what to say. Linzay’s toe injury seemed to shrink instantly.

Our jaws agape and our eyes wide as he continued rolling his leg up, it seems his able was only the start to a maze of injury. He continues with his characteristic grin, one that is so big that it seems his eyes have to squint to make room for it. ” I survived but I lose my boat,” subtly, his smile faded when he said boat, “It was a good boat. A big boat.”

The scar winds to his knee, Hei stops to roll his waist band down, exposing the scars destination on his hip. By this time, my disbelief had tuned to a burning curiosity, ” Where whereyou, whathappened,what didyoudo?” the questions seemed to shake out of me in the rhythm of our longtail boat skipping across the water.

Catching a boat with a boat, in the middle of the ocean.

“I was on my boat, when I see there,” he points off toward Koh Pei Pei Lay island, “Something wrong, I see a big wave. Very big-10 meter. Very fast.” He starts laughing at the absurdity of the memory.

“What did you do?!” I cried out in suspense. A pretty dumb question when considering the impossibility of the situation. He laughed out loud, shaking his head.

“I did this,” He said diving to the bottom floorboards of our stationary boat, grabbing the wooden ribs.

“Ohhhhhhh, Shiiiitttt!”

We all laugh, surrounded by the tranquil pristine water. Colourful fish dart below.

“I never got my boat replaced. The politicians take all the money.” He said shaking his head again. “The rest went to big resorts”

The day the Boxing day Tsunami hit, I was in Canada, huddled with my family around a roaring fire in a log cabin, hiding from the frozen outside. Hei was struggling for his life. Meeting him made the story real, I couldn’t have imagined what it would have been like to survive his circumstance, but after the next day I could imagine it all the more clearly. It was with timidness and humility he told his story, it was with terror that I was able to relate to it. Read about that day by clicking here.

Perspective is a funny thing. Timing is even funnier.

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