Last night proved to be rather eventful. After tipping out rather early to read, for once, by the time Husband came to bed there was rather a lot of crashing and banging going on. This time fortunately, not from him. There was a rather crazy, loud thunderstorm going on around us. My first thoughts were that Smelly may wake up and, unlike me, he is not a great lover of noisey storms. But this time he slept through and I was too tired to get up and enjoy the spectacle. Thunderstorms in Ankara, can be quite good but far from the best I’ve seen, very rarely here do we get the really good stuff like blue lightening flashes. Like much stuff in this city it tends to be a lot of noise and very little substance. There had been some flashes earlier in the evening but I just thought I may have seen things as no thunder came a long with it. What I didn’t realise at that time was that the real fun was to come later.
I have no idea what time it was, as my mobile phone was not by the bed-courtesy of Fatso who loves to hide it from me these days. It’s not the first time for me, having been living in Istanbul when the 1999 one hit, so there was no doubt in my mind that it was definitely an earthquake that woke me up. I doubt that it was a little one either, as the whole bed shook/wobbled and the wardrobe was rattling rather disturbingly. I fear that I may have chosen wrongly when dibbing my side of the bed, because had it been worse it definitely would have landed on me. At the time though that was not the first thing that ran through my mind. I feel a bit ashamed that despite wanting to I did not race into the boys’ room. But the reality is, that although worried I knew that it wasn’t anything major. Husband wasn’t much better as he vaguely woke up and said ‘it’s an earthquake’ then promptly rolled over and went back to sleep. I fear that we may be getting a bit too complacent as it was only a few years ago that we were running out of the building, not that it would have done us much good, we would have been outside, surrounded by apartments tall of which could collapse around us. (There may be building regulations here but with the level of bribery I have very little faith that many buildings are actually as earthquake safe as in other countries like Japan).
Being in Turkey means that we have the pleasure of living along a ruddy great fault line. Apparently there are maps which highlight the most at risk areas, but I’ve never seen one. I suppose I should look it up really. The last two really serious ones here were in Izmit, just down the road from Istanbul which was also quite badly affected, and Duzce which is a mountainous region in the centre of the country between Istanbul and Ankara. At the time of the Duzce one it was before the Bolu tunnel was complete and the main road for people travelling from Istanbul to Ankara, or vice versa, saw a portion slide down the mountainside and so it was a miracle that a bus didn’t go down with it. Now that the Bolu tunnels are open I have been through them once but was not entirely happy about it, but the alternative choice is a long drive round precarious winding mountain roads with no crash barriers along the edge.
Not going mad, just looked it up, there was an earthquake of 4.1 magnitude in the Ankara province at 2:30 last night. If you just take a look at the link you can see how active Turkey is, always rumbling. http://www.koeri.boun.edu.tr/sismo/map/en/index.html MInd you 4.1 is a significant leap from the other highest at 3 and most are around 2-2.5.
For those who’ve never experienced an earthquake, the image of what it’s like really doesn’t reflect the reality. I’ll admit that the largest I’ve lived through was in 1999, and being in Istanbul meant that I was quite far from the epicentre, but even so it was still about 6 on the scale where we were and that can do some damage. A lot of people imagine that there is a lot of violent shaking, and from CCTV images often from Japanese quakes this seems to support the idea. But in fact each quake is different and the sensation of it really differs depending where you are. In 1999 people in tall buildings, living on the 10th or more floor, reported feeling the building sway and difficulty standing. My building, however, was a squat apartment block no more than 4 storeys and my flat was on the first floor, but level with the road and only the basement and kapici’s flat below. My main memory of it is darkness and lots of noise. Being at night, we were in bed, so maybe that compensates for the shaking, but it wasn’t as if we were tossed violently around. Perhaps had I been standing and on a higher floor the sensation would have been much different. After the initial shock everyone was very much on guard and some people took a few days before they felt secure enough to return back home. The aftershocks are quite scarey and again I think people may think there are one or two and it settles down again. We were back in the flat a few hours later and the first aftershock was quite violent, with Husband’s reaction oddly being more worried, or at least vocally worried, than during the initial quake. But actually the aftershocks can go on for some days, not as violent as the initial aftershocks certainly, but they are there. I think though they may happen throughout the day, it’s at night you notice most because you are more likely to be still. I remember one night, about a week after the quake waking up in the middle of the night with the sensation that the bed had turned to jelly. Paranoia can set in, but after a while the aftershocks are reported so it’s not hard to find out whether or not you’re going crazy, but the jelly bed one was definitely a small shock and proves that not all earthquake experiences are going to be the stereotypical violent shaking.
Funny thing is Husband this morning asked me if I’d felt the earthquake. A rather confusing question as we spoke after it, so I thought he knew I was awake and worried about the boys. He also must have forgotten the fact that unlike him I didn’t roll over and go back to sleep, for me the insomnia kicked in again and I eventually turned the light on to read until Smelly came in saying he’d had a bad dream.
And despite all the entertainment last night the one thing I did wake up considering to be rather amazing is that throughout both the thunderstorm and the quake we had electricity. Usually the slightest meterological upset and the power goes. Maybe they’ve sorted the electricity weather interuptions and replaced it with what we are experiencing more regularly now, lengthy cuts, particularly during the evenings after dusk, of unspecified duration or reasoning.