Image Credits: Ciencia Escolar, Recomendaciones en caso de Tsunami [ONEMI], https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T71vuzjEsrQ

A Tale of Chile and Its Delightful Little Earthquakes

How Chileans and non-Chileans understand the Richter Scale.

Nota: También se puede disfrutar de este artículo en español. Solo pincha el artículo que aparece allá a continuación. (Don’t read Spanish? Continue reading below in English)

Chilean’s are a particular bunch of people. They live in a country often mistaken for the word “Chili” (and, what’s worse, the geography just happens to resemble a chili….), are surrounded by ocean to the west, mountains to the east, and their country is only as wide as, say, the state of Illinois in the U.S., but over 4,000km long!

Yup, it’s that “skinny country” down there in South America.

And, one other small detail — the Earth under their feet moves. A lot.

It is natural, therefore, that Chileans have become accustomed to seismic events. However, the visitor to Chile may not be as experienced. Never fear, help is on the way!

A Chilean children’s book author, Mauricio Paredes, created the Seismic Manuel for Foreigners (in Spanish). It is a humorous (and quite correct) observation on how Chileans react to seismic events, according to their Richter Scale rating.

Translation provided by me. Original text can be found here, or by viewing the Spanish version of this post. And now….


Seismic Manuel for Foreigners

→ In the case of the Earth moving, the first thing you must do is find a Chilean. They can be easily identified: they are the ones that put salt on their food before tasting it.

Richter Scale Rating / Chilean Reaction → Explanation.


1 to 3 / Absolutely no reaction. → Chileans have mutated and are incapable of feeling seismic movements as weak as these. We are something like the X-Men of earthquakes.

4 to 5 / No reaction → The Chilean knows that it is trembling, but won’t interrupt what they are doing for something so tiny. It also will not interrupt what they are not doing.

6 / The Chilean says: “It’s trembling” → You will think it’s the end of the world, but nothing will happen. Don’t get the idea of leaving, because that’s much more dangerous. Just stay calm, watch the Chilean closely and wait. And please return to our country, or at least don’t bad-mouth us upon your return home, because we don’t have thaaaaaat many natural disasters.

7 / The Chilean says: “It s a strong one” → It is now acceptable to talk about “earthquakes”. In other countries, this would be a cataclysmic event, but here the construction resists quite a lot (and the ones that don’t, well…they already fell in previous earthquakes). It’s OK, we understand if you don’t ever want to return to Chile. Get yourself a good psychologist for the post-traumatic stress (really).

8 / Chilean: “Mother fucker!” (CTM = ConchaTuMadre) → Hold on tight, because if you don’t, you’re gonna fall to the floor. Do exactly the same as the Chilean. Try not to cry, and definitely don’t scream. It’s very likely that nothing will happen, but you could have a run of bad luck, and the very same building you are in decides to part in two (Shit happens). That’s life.

9+ / Chilean is praying→ The shit hit the fan. Now it is indeed the end of the world for real, the Apocalypse. Try to pray and think of your loved ones, because it’s all coming to an end, and Chile won’t win the Copa America either (Translator’s Note: This “guide” was created specifically for foreigners visiting Chile during the Copa America 2015. Chile did, in fact, win the tournament….and would go on to win it again the following year). Try to take stock of your possessions, and be on the lookout for the famous “Chilean cleverness”.

Welcome to Chile!

— Mauricio Paredes, children’s book writer.

Well, that’s all for now. Have fun, and when in Chile, do as the Chileans do (more or less).


Thanks a lot for taking the time to read this! If you liked it, please click on the little heart icon, so that other people can also see and enjoy it. Want to know more about me? Visit my website or my digital design presence — Imaginalgo. (¡También en español!)