Sunday, March 13, 2011

Earthquake at the Gardens

The Botanical Gardens in Honiara contain a wild rambling of lush, tropical growth.  While a normal rain forest is too packed and disordered to effectively display its beautiful flora, whoever created 'Botaniko' gathered only the pleasing, interesting and beautiful plants, and arranged them together in soft, ordered chaos.  

We used to come to Botaniko occasionally for an escape from the heat (it was always cool beneath the jungle canopy).  We'd wander along the paths, over foot bridges, looking for the little water bugs that skated across the surface of the pools.  After a ramble, we'd all meet in the wide, grassy meadow near the entrance of the Gardens for a picnic lunch.  

One such day,  I had just gathered with everybody else on the assorted blankets, and was spooning tuna salad onto a fresh baked bun.  Tupperware containers of fresh papaya in lime juice, cucumbers and vinegar, and sliced pineapples lay scattered among dusty legs, cups of cordial, and a big block of cheese with a knife stuck half way in.  

There was a low rumble, and I looked up, just in time to see the trees at the far end of the clearing rise.  

On Luaniua, I used to watch the tide come in.  The swells would come in from the ocean, fathoms deep, and then when they met the reef, the very top of each swell would be shaved off and make its solitary journey to shore.  Each smooth rise would follow the one before it in sure succession, pushing the water up and down in glossy rhythm.  

Sitting on my picnic blanket in Botaniko, my jaw dropped as I saw the familiar waves emerge from the jungle's eves.  Only it was the grass that was moving.  The very earth itself heaved up, a gentle succession of waves that traveled across the clearing towards us, lifted us three feet in the air, then down again, and then up, in a slow, powerful undulation.  

The earthquake was over as suddenly as it began, and I shakily returned to my tuna fish sandwich.  

1 comment:

  1. I remember this. The scariest one I felt was in Honiara when we could hear it as well as see and feel it, a few years after you left I think.