My bed was shaking and I was still deeply asleep. I did not know what was happening but the whole room began to shake in a frightening way. The noise of things falling and breaking was loud and terrifying. I could hear people shouting and dogs ferociously barking in the background. But I was not sure yet what exactly was happening.
I was very tired after a whole week of hard work and not sleeping properly, and that morning I would had overslept, had that earthquake not occurred.
I barely remember how I manage to get out of the house and what happened next. I just remember that every second felt like an hour and that the whole street was a total chaos.
The sound from the ground was so intimidating, the sense of helplessness was overwhelming. There you feel so small and the power of nature is all you can perceive.
Suddenly the land under my feet slowly stopped its movement and everything around me was dust, fear and confusion.
After a long while, people began to come down and return to their houses to assess the damages. There was no water or electricity, but an old battery radio served me to find out the level of damage in the city. There were more than 300 buildings affected and probably thousands of deaths.
In such times, is when people develop a real sense of unity. I have never seen the spirit of solidarity, cooperation and commitment to that degree, as in those fatidic days.
That was a long period of learning the hard way. Hard lessons every day, fear, death and facing adversity at every corner.
We all learnt too many lessons the days after the earthquake. Lessons that probably we would have never learnt any other way.
But one thing was certain. We would never be the same people as before.
That earthquake marked our souls for ever. That earthquake brought us fear, loss and sorrow, but it changed our perspectives, our concepts and taught us a lot about ourselves.
It was a defining point in our existence.
Actually it was some months later, once I was very far from that city that the nightmares began. Took me a while to process the things I had lived during the rescues and the losses.
But now I know that those events changed many things inside of me.
I am a new human being and if it is within my power, I hope I can avoid that others go through the same lessons I had to go through, although I know each person lives the experiences they need to grow and become a better person. Not everyone seizes that sooner, but life will make sure you have the opportunity to learn and pass the tests sooner, without having to face extraordinary exams all the time.
Many years have passed since that earthquake. And now from the distance I see in my mind those images once more. I can see them in a different perspective now.
When the adverse appears in your life, embrace it and try to find the lesson it brings to your life faster. The sooner you learn it, the faster it will disappear. But always look for the hidden lesson within.