My name is Arnaud Frennet, for those who don’t know me, I am a Naish rider for both SUP and Windsurfing based here in Chile.
As you sure know we have been hit by a devastating 8.8 Earthquake, that was followed by a Tsunami.
My family and myself have been very fortunate given the circumstances, despite some material damage (the tsunami reached our house in Punta de Lobos but did not destroy it…too much luck). Unfortunately around us some of our friends and neighbors did not get the same fate and lost everything. We have put all our energy into helping them for recovery.
All the Surf, SUP, Kite and Windsurf community has come together to help for recovery. The most damaged area extend from Tirua to Pichilemu, which is the most famous area for those sports in Chile, and for sure one of the most intense on Earth. The tsunami hit many World Famous beaches for those sports like Curanipe, Llico, Matanzas, Pichilemu & Punta de Lobos, just to name a few.
In such disaster there are lots of very sad stories, but also thousands of fantastic ones where the best side of people takes over everything else. What is really fascinating to me, it is the way that people have learned to talk to each other again. The whole country feels like a small village today, where everyone knows and appreciates each other. There is a lot of very positive energy and solidarity, and you can meet real life heroes everywhere.
Yesterday for example the fisherman of Duao brought the whole catch of the day to the city of Curico and gave it for free as a gesture for the help they received right after the tsunami. There are plenty of other examples like this one, but despite of that some regions are still far from returning to normality, and thousands of kids have not gone back to school yet. Winter is fast approaching and in the south the first rains have come to stress the emergency for solving the housing issue that thousands are facing.
Another important issue today is the psychological consequences of the mega 8.8 quake. In some coastal villages people are still afraid of going back to their houses and prefer to camp on the hills. There has been lots of aftershocks and the fear of another tsunami is still omnipresent.
Surfers haves been helping a lot in that sense, like in Pichilemu, Chile’s surf capital, where we just had a “Reconciliación con el Mar” as a symbolic event of peacemaking with our Ocean. There some surf schools are back to work and seeing kids overcome their fears is another great positive sign. In fact, it even feels good to see some crowd back in the water. Every spot has changed but the conditions have just been excellent, and the atmosphere better than ever…we all feel a bit more humble I guess.
It will definitely take a long time for reconstruction, but whatever we do Chile will never be the same again.
The relief effort is being co-ordinated by Save the Waves. Please Donate Now !