just when i was starting to recover from all the scares of the earthquake, a third strike. a fire started at 6a.m. on the sixth floor of my mom's apartment building, i sleeping placidly on the 11th. i suddenly woke up with a weird smell and thought maybe i had plugged my cell phone in for too long; it smelled like burned rubber, chemicals and the like. nothing in my apartment that i could see so drew the curtains in the bedroom to find no view but smoke everywhere engulfing the whole building. i quickly ran to the front door to let my neighbors know. smoke everywhere,coughing, screaming down below, banging of doors. i was still ringing my neighbors' doorbell about ten times until they answered. miguel is a pilot and immediately told me to grab a wet towel and put it to my face. i was in my baby doll, barefoot, going crazy, not being able to think. i grabbed the towel, wet it completely, grabbed the keys to the apartment,nothing more nothing less and aimed for the stairs. i was only one floor down, unable to breathe or see anything when a teenager named pablo came out of the smoke with his hands extended. pablo, my hero, who walked me to his apartment and took me to the balcony window to breathe fresh air. the fire engines had not yet arrived and the panic was global in the building from the 7th upwards. so many thoughts went through my mind....would i have to jump/ would i die burned? would they rescue us in time. pablo's father was concenred about the carpets in the hallways which made me anic even more.
at last the sirens, and HOPE. we could see people gathering below and we still 10 stories above. i was shivering at this point since it was early in the morning and it is nearing winter here. i was still barefoot in my baby doll with just a flannel bathrobe over me. people later told me i was in shock.
about fifteen minutes later pablo's father said we should just run for it, try the stairs anyway with out mouths covered. i asked pablo to hold my hand or i wouldn't go and he took me all the way down, comforting me every step of the way. pablo my hero ten times over.
i am still in shock, barely able to sleep nights since there is still that smell and i keep waking up thinking there is another fire. i sleep with the lights on and the TV since i am still solo in chile taking care of mom's estate.
my neighbor paty and her husband miguel have invited me over to spend the night a couple of days but i am now back in my own and must face this scare and overcome it. not easy considering i had barely recovered from the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in februrary.