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One year ago last week, I was in an earthquake in Mexico City; a 7.1.  How do you work that into casual conversation?

September 19, 2017 at 1:15 pm local time, a powerful earthquake shook the bejeezus out of my training class; our lunch break; my colleagues and me!  Thankfully, no one in our group got hurt.

Unfortunately, there were many in Mexico City and surrounding states that did get hurt; over 200 people killed; hundreds perhaps thousands injured.  According to The Guardian ©;

It was the second major earthquake to hit Mexico in two weeks and came on the anniversary of the 1985 quake that devastated Mexico City, killing 5,000 people and destroying 10,000 homes.

In fact, because of that 32nd anniversary; commemorating that devastation; we actually had an emergency evacuation drill at 11am in 2017.  Just about 2 hours before the real thing hit again!

During the episode, I wasn’t afraid; but I was not brave either.  I was conscious of the fact we were experiencing an earthquake – on the 19th floor of a hotel no less.  What started out feeling like a freight train passing by, causing the table to vibrate quickly erupted into what seemed like a prolonged period of ferocious shaking; I could not keep my feet.

Those much braver than I were calling out; directing us towards the archway leading into the room.  Firmly they instructed us to move away from the windows; calmly, they reassured us that we will be alright.

I remember looking out the window and seeing the glass buildings across the plaza actually swaying.  It was surreal; it reminded me of that scene in movie The Matrix when the helicopter crash caused a ripple through the facade of a glass office tower.

My overriding feeling today is one of disappointment.  So many had invested so much before the earthquake hit – and after.  Gustavo Moussalli, out Latin American Division Director and the executive sponsor for the class had made a huge commitment to his local partners; coordinating a 3-day enablement class to support their success.

Gerardo Diez Martinez, our local Channel Manager made all the arrangements.  The meeting rooms and set-up; AV equipment; food and beverage; Gerardo spared no expense to insure we would have everything we needed for his partners.

My colleague Susanna Lagtapon sacrificed time away from her daughter’s 13th birthday; traveling instead to join us for the class.  Our colleague, Tony Caporal, with cooler head and bravery, prevailed following the earthquake.  He helped us retrieve our laptops and luggage.  (Even stopping at the lobby bar to grab a free beer on his way out of the hotel.)

Our VP, Brian Enright, was our “home base”; coordinating flights out of town; hotel reservations; and anything else he could do to support us from afar.

And especially Hector Garcia from our long-time partner NetSoft.  Hector insisted on personally driving us to the airport; would not hear of us taking a taxi or a bus.  He would navigate us through the city streets; on constant vigil for our safety.  Three hours to drive us 12 kilometers.  Three hours in the opposite direction from his own home and family – taking us in his care.

As with all disasters, there were many heroes – named and unnamed.  But that was 2017; Mexico City; and an earthquake.  Today, it’s another crisis; another natural disaster; another conflict.

We are all thankful for so many first responders and other heroes – named and unnamed.  May God bless them all.

GAP

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6 Comments


  1. Antonio Lira
    Sep 26, 2018

    Yes Gary was a terrible day for all of us!! Those of us who lived through the 1985 earthquake, as my case and of course Hector García. We knew of the power that an earthquake of these magnitudes could cause, I thought for a moment that; it would be the end… But luckily we left unharmed, and the families of the people that you met there, I think everyone also ran with the same fate.

    Thank you very much for writing these words of support, mean a lot to us.

    Thanks Gary, Mexico is your home, and you have many friends here!!!


    • Gary
      Sep 27, 2018

      Antonio – your kinds words touch my heart – thank you very much! I hope our paths cross again in the future. Thx, GAP


  2. Tony C
    Oct 01, 2018

    Still remember this day very well – I took a pause out of my day to celebrate this milestone when it occurred. So many emotions, thoughts, what-if’s, etc. as it was happening – just truly grateful for you, our team and that this event found most of the folks in Mexico able to fare from this natural disaster.


    • Gary
      Oct 03, 2018

      Thanks Tony! Yes, one of those life experiences that make life worth living. Thx, GAP


  3. Susanna
    Oct 20, 2018

    That day will be with us forever Gary. So thankful for your strength and caring during those awful hours. The world is good.


    • Gary
      Oct 30, 2018

      Thanks for remembering and commenting Susanna! Yes, the world IS good. Thx, GAP

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