Add Sinkholes to the List of Things That Go Bump In The Night

I’ve had nights where I can’t sleep. For whatever reason, I am preoccupied with what might be happening the next day or I’m distracted by the noises coming from my neighbor’s bedroom. My old neighbor was very raucous.

Eventually, though, I just fall asleep and wake up the next day. I’m not usually traumatized (unless we are counting some of the neighbor’s sounds); I just get up and start my day.

If this happened to me, I’m fairly sure I would never sleep again.

Inocenta Hernandez retired to bed one evening in her Guatemalan home. She was very tired from her day of listening to Radio Sonora and reading the novel based on the life of Manuel Estrada Cabrera entitled Senor Presidente ( I know nothing about Guatemala, so all Guatemalan information is courtesy of the fine people at Wikipedia. Wikipedia: There So You Can Pretend You Know Crap).

She was awoken by a large boom and immediately jumped out of bed, thinking there had been an explosion. Hernandez, aware that explosions are usually fairly dangerous, went to go check on her grandchildren who were sleeping in the next room.

That’s when she realized a startling fact: the boom was from inside her house.

Hernandez, most likely looking for something to help her identify the boom, glanced under her bed. There it was.

A three foot wide, forty foot deep sinkhole.

This is not an ideal situation for anyone. Like most people, Hernandez was likely afraid of a monster under her bed when she was a child. Waking up to find a monster under your bed, though, would be a little bit better than a hole that presumably goes deep into the Earth’s molten core. There is at least a chance it’s a friendly, lovable monster like Elmo who will sing songs and teach you life lessons. There is no chance a deep dark pit under your bed is friendly and it probably has a terrible voice to boot.

Of course there is also at least a slim chance that this pit leads to a magical kingdom. This seems to be how about 75% of fantasy stories start, and if four kids can wonder through the woods and meeting a talking lion because they walked into a wardrobe, who’s to say that a Guatemalan lady can’t be whisked off to a fantastical land of fairy dust and magical birds just by having her bed fall directly into a sinkhole?

Odds are, though, it would probably just kill her. That’s not quite as magical.

Now Hernandez is left with a giant hole in her house. I’m assuming that kind of repair is fairly expensive. I’ve never had an estimate done on an in-home cavern, but it probably is a small fortune.

If I were her, I would head down to my local Casa Deposito (the Guatemalan Home Depot) and grab some Quikrete. You only need 472 bags of the stuff to fill it up. That can’t be that expensive. Hernandez could even get her grandkids to take care of it. Playing with Quikrete is fun AND helpful.

The better option would probably be to move, but with the Guatemalan housing market like it is, it’s going to be very difficult to sell a house with a hole in the ground. Maybe they could put a giant garbage disposal and faucet in and call it a “Deluxe Kitchen Sink.”

Either way, I would find a house with a second story for the next time. You can’t fall into a sinkhole if you’re on the second story unless the whole house went in.

On second thought, I might just choose a new country. This happens all the time there (according to Wikipedia) and you might want avoid this scenario again.

After all, Quikrete is not cheap.

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12 thoughts on “Add Sinkholes to the List of Things That Go Bump In The Night

  1. Quite an article for a man who recently claimed to be boring.
    I meanwhile learned that in German we have no less than eight words for sinkhole, but hardly ever so formidable sinkholes like those in Guatemala.

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  2. That is crazy. If her bed had been a few feet over, she could have gotten up to check the noise and fallen right in. I think I would choose a new country too. On second thought, I might cover it with a rug and invite a few annoying people over first.

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  3. Okay, you are freaking me out. I have this recurring dream that my bed sits above a pit in the ground. A large, dark pit, with lots of bugs. I don’t feel much better knowing that it could happen.

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    • I’m sorry to add to your nightmares. Perhaps it would help to know that this seems to only happen in Guatemala. That is unless you are in Guatemala, in which case you are probably just screwed.

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  4. Not only Guatemala is so afflicted. I grew up in Montreal, which is an island encircled by some pretty fierf rivers, and heard a story decades ago about something that happened in either the district of St. Leonard or Montreal North. A man got up in the morning to go to work and while he started his car, with his wife waving him goodbye at the front door, a sinkhole swallowed him and the whole car up. Apparently, there is a network of undergrownd rivers under the island. The guy or his car were never seen again. Now I couldn’t find anything on the internet about this story (I heard about it about 30 years ago) but I did find something about a family of four, and their whole house, falling into a 100 x 300 foot sinkhole near Montreal in 2010. Only the dog survived. Here’s a link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/13/world/americas/13canada.html

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    • Do you think it was like that Elmer Fudd and dog cartoon, with the dog waiting patiently by the sink hole all these years for his family to return? Poor dog.

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