Thursday, March 5, 2009

My New Home

In December, I decided that it was time to move. I loved where I was living, though I yearned for a bit more independence than I got living on someone else’s property – just behind their home. I had a great host family, but there were so many of them around all the time and having lived on my own for more years than I care to count, I wanted to find a place that would give me more privacy. Though I found empty houses, they were not for rent. I went on vacation and left word with friends in my town that I was interested in finding a new home and asked if they would keep a proverbially ear to the ground about houses for rent. In a small town, with few people moving in or out, there wasn’t much available. I did not know when I started my search that it would take me three months to find my perfect home. I got frustrated but tried not to lose faith that my Paraguayan home was somewhere out there waiting for me to find it.

During the second week of February my host family told me that they were going to need the two rooms that I was renting and asked me to move out by the end of the month. I still had not found my perfect home and now I only had two weeks to find it. The pressure made me frantic. I called my new Peace Corps boss and felt badly that I was handing her a problem so early on in her job with us. I hadn’t met her yet, had only spoken to her by phone, yet she dropped everything and drove the 2 hours from Asuncion to come and see me. We called the mayor of my town and the three of us sat together to think about what could be done. The mayor had heard that someone had just moved out of a house located near the middle school/high school. He made a call and we went to see it. The house was adorable. A cute, new little two-room house. It had a cute little manicured from lawn and garden. The rooms were large and the bathroom, like the rest of the house was newly built and fairly large. I noted that there was no sink (the two rooms were just that – too big empty rooms, no formal kitchen) and I would have to buy and have one installed outside. The first room, the one you walked into from the front door, also had a back door. That was as good a place as any for a sink. I noted though, that there was not much back there, just dirt and not very much of the property back there would be mine to use. There was also no shade, meaning that during the summer (like right now) the sink could only be comfortably used in the very early morning or late evening, which also meant there would need to be a light installed above the sink. Not overwhelming problems, but still something to consider. At any rate, as my options were limited, I decided to rent the house and made arrangements to speak with the owner the following Sunday (the day that day was Monday).

On Saturday afternoon, I made a list of things to discuss with the owner the following afternoon. I doubt she would have any problem in my adding the sink and light as they would only increase the value of the house and property. Just as I was putting my list together and figuring out the costs involved, I got a text message from a friend of mine. She knew of a house that was for rent and had spoken to the owners on my behalf. She sent me there number and despite thinking of my housing issues as solved, I called the woman. The house in question was an awesome, modern 2-story structure next to the house I was planning on renting. I had passed the house a bunch of times always wondering who owned it. I was told the owners were seldom in town and that they lived in Asuncion.

It turned out that the family only wanted to rent me the lower portion of the home, which was completely separate from the second story. The first floor was basically just one big room. It has a very nice bathroom with a shower (which wasn’t huge, but looked brand new and had evidently never been used). The room had four large windows and a back door which led out onto a large courtyard that a big mango tree in the center (I love mangos). Around the side of the courtyard was a patio with a sink and Paraguayan outdoor oven and separate built-in barbecue. There were also a set of metal stairs which led up to a second floor patio. This patio also had a sink and space for putting up a clothesline. Next to the first floor patio was yet another patio, this one accessible through a big metal locking door. This particular patio had a number of fruit trees in it, lemon, orange, grapefruit, and mandarin. The owners understood that I had very little furniture of my own and showed me furniture that I could use if I wanted. The furniture was also great, and included a small bed, awesome desk with space for book storage, a brand new gas range with electric starter, a meat freezer which could be used at a lower setting as a fridge and a set of three storage units which together with my wardrobe could act as dividers between the main living space and a bedroom.

All in all, it was an amazing home and I was faced with telling the owner of the house next door that I had had a last minute offer and that I would not be renting her home. I was relieved that she understood that I had gotten a better offer and did not seem to be angry with me. Three days later, I moved into my new home. When I couldn’t find a good price on a dining room table and chairs (the only furniture I wasn’t able to borrow), my new landlords offered to take me to some furniture shops in Asuncion. As they were planning to come to Loma Grande the following weekend, they offered to drive up anything that I purchased. I found a great little dining room set at a good price and by the first of March, my new home was more or less complete.

Of course, the saying, good things come to those who wait, always turns out to be true for me. I did get frustrated but I didn’t really lose faith. I knew something great was out there for me; it was just hard to maintain constant optimism as the weeks went by. The only changes I’m making to my new home is the addition of screening for the windows as there are a ton of mosquitoes around and it’s Dengue season (though there hasn’t been any reported cases in my department for a number of years). Despite the use of repellent and mosquito coils (spirals that you light and the smoke and fumes are meant to keep the bugs away) I’m still constantly bitten. The carpenter just came by to measure my windows and my screening should be up next week. There are still little things to make my home more a home (like artwork from my nephews that my sister has promised to send) but little by little, I’ll get it decorated so it looks more like me.

So…now, I’ve got the perfect space for entertaining. There is plenty of space for guests, so all I need to know is who wants to visit me first? Remember, mi casa es su casa. Take care friends……