We asked the tuk-tuk driver where he would go if there were a tsunami and he said he was driving towards his home. Without thinking, I bravely asked if we could go with him. I would never make such a request under normal circumstances, but I didn’t think getting dropped off on a mountain with no cover for an indefinite period of time was a good idea. We needed an internet connection that would update us regularly about the tsunami warning. The driver sorta nodded, but I really wasn’t sure. And then his wife arrived on her moped behind us and the driver sighed with relief as he pointed toward her head scarf and said, “my wife.”
After driving a total of about 10 km, we turn onto a driveway and the driver says “internet,” pointing inside. We walk inside after removing our shoes and Giovanni sits down at the small desk to read the news about the earthquake. I look above the desk and see a photo of the driver, his wife, and their toddler son. I realized we were inside his home. At one point Giovanni used Google Translate to try and communicate with the driver’s wife and another man in the home.
Despite only being able to communicate a few words, within a few minutes we were sitting at the tuk-tuk driver’s dining table outside. We exchanged eye contact and frequent smiles with the driver’s wife, an older woman, and played with the toddler son. After checking the internet multiple times and turning on the local news, it seemed that the tsunami would hit in an hour and a half (7:30 pm), 2 hours after the earthquake off the coast of Sumatra. So we knew we would be waiting for a while.
The driver’s wife began to graciously cook in the outdoor kitchen. It started raining, and by the time dinner was served, there was no electricity. Our hosts kindly brought candles so we could eat the most delicious fried rice we had eaten in Thailand.
We continued to follow the news until around 9 pm, when the tsunami warning was lifted. At this point, the tuk-tuk driver took us back to our hotel. The streets were pitch black and our hotel was deserted. All the employees had left. So we gathered the remainder of our belongings and went back up the mountain to find a different hotel further from the beach and had a restful night of sleep.
Though the tsunami never arrived, we will always remember the anxiety we felt that day, the kindness of the tuk-tuk driver and his family, and the realization that only very few belongings our valuable enough to take in an emergency.