Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fire - and a narrow escape

So the generator went off at about 8:15pm.  Izzie had already taken her sunburn off to bed and Sue and Ken had gone a short while ago, so the five of us all figured that with only the light from Nic's and my torches, we should finish our drinks and go to bed too.

Then we saw the fire.

section of the fire as seen from the top of the flying fox

It was burning behind the kitchen area, around where the flying fox was, thankfully the other side to the route out of the dining area and the lodge.  It had already engulfed the cabin directly behind the kitchen area, and was spreading fast through the ne next to it.  Thankfully those cabins were empty, though it is quite possibly where TJ and Cathy would have been had they been there.  But the next cabin along was Izzie's and the steps up to it, ie her escape route, were in real danger of catching fire very soon.

We all began yelling fire very loudly, in English and Spanish.  Leon and I both went running up the steps to Izzie's cabin, yelling at her to get out.  Leon was banging on her door and we were both shouting at her that we weren't joking and she seriously needed to get out now.  The pause while she got dressed seemed like an eternity, but she came out having had the presence of mind to grab her laptop.  She never had the chance to go back for anything else.

The guys from the lodge started trying to put out the fire, but it became clear this was a losing battle.  Ben helped the guys to ferry the gas bottles away from the fire, Shanyn was banging on nearby doors, and I went to wake up Sue and Ken.  Our rooms were all on the far side of the lodge, so we we had a chance to go in and collect some of our stuff, but there wasn't time to get everything, especially as in the dark it was hard to see what was there.  Poor Shanyn couldn't find her camera, and after the second attempt, Izzie quite rightly said she should not go back in to look for it again.

We knew that the rain from earlier in the day would have helped dampen down the trees, but with the way the fire was burning, we were concerned that there was a possibility that the trees above the lodge could catch fire, blocking off our escape route. So we figured it was time to leave. With a backward glance to the advancing fire, we set off up the steps. We were pretty relieved when we got there, and equally pleased to see two fire engines pull up. They started setting up, and when I told them that there were still people down there, they went into overdrive. We realized that two of our group had not made it up yet, and Izzie went back down to make sure they got out safely. We were all pretty relieved to see the three of them come up the steps.

The lodge had obviously made arrangements for what would happen in the event of a fire, as taxis started to arrive to take us away to town. All eight of us piled into the taxi truck that turned up and we were driven the twenty minutes back into town to a hotel owned by the same group. Izzie then had the long task of getting in touch with TJ and Dragoman HQ to let them know what had happened. We were up for some while afterwards, and the guys from the lodge got back around 1:30am. The lodge had burned to the ground.

We were lucky. We had all lost some stuff - Izzie just about everything - but we had all escaped without any harm at all. Had we been sat further away from the fire, we would not have seen it so soon and so the situation could have been much worse. And had it been thirty or so minutes later, when we had gone to bed, I think we might have been lucky to make it out at all.

A narrow escape then, but an escape we are very thankful for.

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