Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A place to call my own

Since I arrived in my site, I have been searching for my own house to rent. After seven months of dead-ends, false promises, and general exhaustion with the whole process, I finally have found a house!
Why are you renting an entire house if you´re just one person? you may ask... Well, ¨apartments¨ don´t really exist here, so my best bet was to find a small, safe house of my own. My current host family situation is very crowded (12 people in three rooms), and I´ve grown tired of the endless gossip and drama involved with a large family.
The house (see ¨before¨ photo above) I´ve found is actually on the same street as my host family´s - just about five minutes away. It´s right next to the courthouse and the high school, so I feel safe. The neighbors seem very friendly and own a little fritanga - a Nicaragua-style street food ¨restaurant¨ selling things like fried enchiladas, tacos and chips. I´m renting the house from a local teacher for $50/month, which is a pretty normal price for a small house.
The house has four main rooms: a living room, a smaller room I´ll use as the kitchen - (I´ve decided not to use the outdoor firewood stove and kitchen the house has), a bedroom and then an extra bedroom I´ll use for housing visitors (come on over!) and for storing my mountain of reference books that Peace Corps has lent me for my work.
The past week I have spent waging a war on the house. Every day I have sweated and cursed as I swept, mopped, got rid of spiderwebs, fumugated, put in new light sockets, contracted a carpenter to put in new locks and doors, and, best of all - I painted!
In my hometown in Alaska, I remember when our neighboor, a Filipino woman, painted her house pink with blue trim. The entire neighboorhood (and perhaps even town) was in a bit of shock... Maybe in the Filipines you can do that, but in Alaska it´s just not normal to paint a house that color. Pink is one of my favorite colors, and I´ve often joked with friends that I´d love to have a pink house someday. Well, in Nicaragua, my day has come. It is completely acceptable, even enviable here to have a pink house. I decided on a fuscia color with dark brown trim, and my host brother and some of his buddies helped me paint it. They even told me how much they liked the color, and the neighbors also commented on how nice it looked.
I put in all of my things: a new bed, mini-frige, fan, stove, hammock...and I was all ready to finally start sleeping there when we discovered - gasp - FLEAS!!!
Yes, despite all of my cleaning efforts and all the cans of Raid that I had used, apparently the house had fleas. I had a little freak-out, needlses to say. I felt like in this war, the house was winning, and I was out of energy.
The next day I tracked down some venom to kill fleas and had a guy fumugate the house. We´ll repeat the whole thing in another week or so to get them all...
I´ve been looking up information on fleas on the internet the past few days, and it´s pretty scary. Having never really come into contact with them before (maybe Alaska´s too cold for many fleas?) my knowledge is lacking. Apparently there are many types, but they are a parasite - so they usually live on hosts: chickens, cats, dogs... Which makes me a little confused since there are no pets in the house, and the neighbors don´t have too many either. Although there are lots of chickens that like to cross over into my yard and pick through the grass. I´ve put up chicken wire, but they just fly over it...

So, although I have a nice pretty pink house, it still needs some work. I just hope I can move in before Christmas rolls around (I´m planning on going to Costa Rica with some girlfriends for a couple weeks). For now, my war wages on against the elements. If it takes all I have, I will dominate the fleas!!

1 comment:

robert said...

Hey, Penny, it's your uncle Bob. Love the paint job! Looks like you're on a real adventure. Your whole family is proud of what you're doing and we all wish you the best. Stay safe, and if "las pulgas" are the worst things you have to contend with you can count yourself lucky.
You can be sure you'll be in our Thanksgiving prayers, and I hope we can see you again as soon as possible.