December 23, 2011, Joe and I were sitting in the living room with 3 big windows viewing the landscape. It was about 7:45 AM. We move there sometimes to finish our coffee from Breakfast. Our neighbor girl leaves with her daughter about this time, she goes up the road, turns left and drives to Cuenca. At 7:50 Joe suddenly exclaimed "Holy Moly", something my mother used to say when things went wrong! The BIG Eucalyptus tree across the road came down with a soft thud----amazing that it was not loud! Joe watched as a bus with 40 people passed under the falling tree and missed it by one bus length! The driver went forward 4 bus lengths and stopped because the electric lines were twisted all over the road! All of the passengers got out and walked back to see "what almost killed them all"!
The poles on both sides of the highway were split and some of them topped off! There were 7 concrete poles damaged. The tree was 114 years old, and at least 90 feet tall we learned after talking to the person who's yard it was in. It came down on the road to the right of our house about 100 ft. It missed a small white building and a white brick wall of the neighbors. The rest of it split off in branches and limbs and made a big mess all down our road as it totally blocked the highway to Gualaceo and Chordeleg where we used to live. The road is also a major line to Quito and is called the Pan American Highway! The traffic was continuing to come to the tree on both sides and get blocked. That was a circus watching big Gasoline trucks, dump trucks, and buses try to turn around on a two lane road each side. Some had to back up a mile and a half to get to the crossroads to go another direction. Celina's husband who was still home and came running over exclaiming his "stomach was in his throat" because she had just left with their daughter 5 minutes before. He called the police on my cell phone because they needed to stop the traffic quickly. Joe went out to direct it for a little while until they got the blockades up.
We spent the greater part of the day watching the City Electric Team work, passers-by going under or over it whichever they could maneuver best. The first chain saws showed up about 4:00 PM. They made one cut in the tree in the center of the road and moved the stump to the side with a backhoe. Two women with a cow and a calf made it through that opening to "greener pastures" along the road somewhere. School kids had a fun time climbing up on it and running back and forth. Joe got a picture of me sitting on top of it with 4 of the crew members in front. I patted it once or twice to say "goodbye"!. Oswaldo, our neighbor, came out and "hugged" the tree lying down on it. I guess he felt "grief" for it. We have seen him hug trees both alive and dead! Joe measured the diameter at 5.5 feet at the stump cut. We were there when the TV people showed up and the newspaper reporter. There was one little blurb about 2.5 inches square in the paper on the weekend. .
We had no electricity, of course, in the whole community. The City Electric Team was incredible. They brought long trucks with new poles and a big "cherry picker" truck which pulled out the broken poles. The men stripped the holes by hand and the machine put the new ones back in, then they were filled by hand. The stretching of the lines was done by hand with men up each pole. They put up new cross bars and insulators on each one. We had electricity back in the house at 7:15 PM!. I commend the City workers heartily. They did GOOD work. They opened the road again for one lane traffic, too.
The rest of the week was interesting. We watched the sawyers work on the big tree from our house windows. They only took Christmas day off. They were working on very rough ground down in the ravine by our little canal. A fence with barbed wire had been wrapped in it too! About the 4th day they brought two big semi flat-beds and loaded 4 big 9 ft trunk pieces on each one and hauled them away.The road was very dangerous for three days. The rest of the wood limbs were sawn, hauled out of the hole by hand and stacked on three different open semi trucks. Eucalyptus is very heavy wood. The best thing that came out of the tragedy is that Joe asked for a slab at the trunk base to be cut for him. He negotiated one price the first day and when they came to do the cut the next day they wanted 3 X the money! It's the way they treat people when you are Americano! He fixed the price for "a few dollars more"! Then the next week he had a worker come from a house that is being built near us and tell him that he had more slabs for Joe. Soooooo, Joe is going into the table making business. His experience with refinishing and doing some carpentry in the Antique Business in the 1980's is going to help! He is going to make all of the tables for the B & B----entry, living room, and bedside end tables. That will save a lot of money and be Rustically Beautiful for this grand old place. He will also make a table and accessory business out of the rest of the trees he found. He had the contractor guys building the house next door help him cut yesterday and bring the biggest ones home today. He worked for them a day for the exchange.
That's how our life changes from day to day in this new place!
Marie and Joe