San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

In Their Own Words: People Recount Scenes

‘Restaurant simply exploded’

Virginia resident Walter Holmes was among 300 tourists trapped overnight in the La Paz Waterfall Gardens Hotel. Holmes and his wife spent the night in a bus in the hotel’s parking lot, where they scoured the hotel’s ruins for supplies before they were evacuated in a helicopter the next day.

“We scrounged up enough chips and food for the night,” said Holmes, 66, who had come to Costa Rica as part of a cruise tour. He was in the hotel eating lunch when the quake hit.

“The restaurant simply exploded,” he said. “I didn’t even have time to get scared.”

‘I was thrown 15 feet’

Mark Davis, from the U.S. city of Chicago, and his brother were in PoasNational Park when the earthquake struck.

“There were about 30 to 40 people in the park. We had just gotten off the observation deck when the quake hit. The ground raised three feet to our right, then four feet to the left. I was thrown 15 feet. …People were running, screaming, lying on the ground.”

‘Never seen anything

like the earthquake’

At the MultiPlaza Escazú mall, the atmosphere was chaos, according to Luis Aleman, the parking security supervisor.

“Everyone poured out [of the mall]. Glass had shattered and fallen from the ceiling; it was very dangerous. … I’ve never seen anything like the earthquake.”

‘Some kids were left behind’

At Cinemark Theaters at the Multiplaza, everyone ran out during the earthquake, said theater employee Vladimir López.

“They left everything, their popcorn, and just took off running. There were many kids. Some kids were left behind; we helped them find their parents.”

‘Everything in my house

was broken’

“I was working nearby when the earthquake happened,” said Luis Arce, a resident of the earthquake zone. “Everything in my house was broken – the television, the motorbike, the plates, the lights. I don’t really know what we’re going to do.”

‘It was crazy’

“In Europe, we don’t have this kind of situation,” said German tourist Bannier Burghard. “I have seen a thousand times on TV what you do if there’s an earthquake. You run under a door. But we sit outside on the terrace. You couldn’t remember in so few seconds. … It was crazy.”


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