Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Home Sweet Home

We finally did it! We finally found a new house for Carly!

After two months of telling everyone I knew that I was looking for a house to rent and getting no-where, Carly and I started pounding the pavement, going up and down the city blocks looking for ‘For Rent’ signs, ‘For Sale’ signs, or houses that generally looked abandoned, and popping into stores or talking to people outside of the houses every few blocks to see if they knew of any available areas. In the entire city we found:
• 1 house that had a ‘For Rent’ sign but that was too expensive
• 1 house very cheaply priced but nowhere near the urban areas where Carly and I work, it also didn’t have a bathroom
• 1 apartment that was beautiful, but the landlady never got back to me with a price, it was also a little ways outside of the central area, which wouldn’t have been a problem if the area in between was a little safer to walk through at night
• 1 house not in the central area that was priced way to high considering its location and it didn’t have a modern bathroom.
• 1 wooden house that we was rented out from under us. It had a modern bathroom, 2 rooms, a living room, and an area in the back with a sink to do laundry. It was perfect, had a really nice sized yard that I had hopes of turning into a vegetable garden. It was located on a main street, Carly was good friends with the people who lived across the street, and the landlord lived just a few more houses down, and there was one of the city’s best ice cream places and pizza parlors just a few blocks away. We actually found the house while taking a break from the heat to enjoy some ice cream and asked the owner if she knew of anything that was available. I was a little worried about the house being made of wood, because all of the other houses in the street were made of bricks. Naturally a wooden house is easier to break into, though it did have a wrought-iron door in front of the normal door, which would at least make it look more imposing. Also another volunteer in my area had his wooden house broken into; they just tore off the tin slabs his roof, which is was this house’s roof was made of. Also, wooden houses have more bugs. However Carly didn’t seem worried about that and also assured me that wood houses are very nice and cool in the summer, which was our main complaint about her current home aka the tatakua[oven]. Unfortunately when we came back, less than a week later, to have sign the rental contract, the landlord told us that actually they house was technically rented to someone else, but he just hadn’t seen them in a while. I think he just found someone else.

So we went back out on the streets, block by block. Finally we walked into a little corner store selling small gifts, house decorations, crafty stuff and nick-knacks. A very friendly woman inside informed us that she did indeed know of an available house, hers, which was right next door. Actually her house was shaped like and ‘L’. They were renting out the ‘_’ part and living in the ‘I’ part. The available area consisted of 2 rooms, a modern bathroom, a large garage area, and a yard separated from the main house’s. The price was right, the location was perfect [2 blocks from where Carly currently lived], the family seemed nice, they had their own business, so they would be less likely to try and bleed Carly dry.

Determined not to have another house slip out from under us we went back the next day, showed her the standard rental contract that PC used, which she approved. Carly was going to bug bomb the house herself, but the new landlady offered to do it before she moved in for free.

A few days after that, Carly arranged a move-in date, and by November 26th she was all settled in. I felt really bad that I couldn’t help her move, but I had a required 3-month check-in[Reconnect] with the Peace Corps, so I was gone the entire week that she packed up and moved. She was also babysitting Lila for me, so she had to cart her between the old and new home. Actually I heard that our friend Richard transported her in a box on his moto, which she was not too happy about.

Anyway, I’ve promised her an apple pie from Grammy’s recipe when she gets back from helping her boyfriend, Stephen, clean his house in preparation for his parents visit. The Granny Smiths have been very tasty lately.

I did get to see her all settled in when I picked up Lila on Monday. She has everything set up quite nicely and was working on a few repairs with Stephen.

Why the New House is Awesome
Fair Price: 300 mil, not a bargain, but a good price
Temperature: The new house has good shade and faces east, which I am convinced is better than west facing houses [like my room and Carly’s old house]. The house has good cross ventilation through the windows. Also the two rooms are not too large, which will make it easier to heat them in the winter.
Space: 1 bedroom, 1 kitchen, 1garage/living room instead of the matchbox I currently live in or the 1 large room that Carly was in before. Actually I think her new garage is the same size as her old house. Yard: The house also has a small yard, so Luna now has a place to run around instead of being tie to a tree all of the time. It should also be enough room for me to make a small garden.
Floor: The floor is rough unfinished concrete like Carly’s old house, which sucks, but the rooms and bathroom are both tiled, so they will be really easy to keep clean.
Location: 4 blocks from the Muni, within 5 blocks of the city’s main three schools where Carly works, 4 blocks from the city’s smallest super market.
Rent substitution: The landlady will allow us to make improvements to the house in lieu of rent. So we could tile all or part of the garage, have someone put in finished cement, etc.
Non-Miserable-Landlady: The new landlady has a little store so Carly will not be her sole source of income. Carly’s miserable former landlady didn’t have any other notable source of income, so she robbed Carly blind at every change. Carly is too nice and paid whatever the landwench asked, even when she knew it wasn’t fair, instead of telling her to bugger off. Actually, since this is an indirect, non-confrontation culture, I’ve found that looking someone directly in the eye and telling them ‘No’ or correcting them in a confident manner is extremely effective. The bus people always quote me the Norte price but have yet to fight me when I simply hand them the correct fare.

Fun Side Note: Ironically, while we were knee deep in our house hunt the landwench told Carly at the Beginning of November that her daughter was coming back from working in Spain or Argentina, perhaps as early as December and so she would need the house back. At first we were disappointed because we were afraid we had missed out of that gotcha biatch moment where Carly tells Miserable-excuse-for-a-landlady that she is leaving..See ya wouldn’t wanna be ya. Kind of like when you are about to break up with someone but they beat you too it. The final result is the same, but for some reason it just doesn’t have the same feeling of triumph. Fortunately Sra. Miserable… disappeared for most of the month of November and never mentioned her daughters potential return to Carly. So Carly did get her moment of victory, indirectly since she had out buddy Richard tell Sra. Miserable that Carly was moving…as she was physically taking her things over to the new house. At little last minute but whatever, technically she did as Carly to move. Sra. Miserable little leech tried once more to claw more money out of Carly, telling her via Richard that everything was fine as long as she paid her November’s rent that she owed… One problem… Carly pays her rent at the beginning of each month, so she already paid November’s rent. Carly said she would pay the rent, which she doesn’t actually intend to do. She plans on avoiding the leech for the next 5 months.

Not so great points:
• There is a small soccer field caddy corner to the house, which does get a little noisy some nights.
• There seem to be more mosquitoes at this house than her last one. Hopefully living there for a while will disturb their breeding sites enough that their numbers will go down.
• The room Carly has made into a kitchen wasn’t originally intended for that purpose, so there isn’t a sink or counters. However, I might try to add those things and substitute them for rent if there are water connections.

And in summary, after two months we found a grand total of 2, yes 2 houses, that Carly could move into. Did I mention there are about 20-30,000 people in my community? Let’s just say the housing market is a little tough here. Which is why I’m toughing it out with a host family until Carly’s service ends.

I’m just jumping out of my sock in anticipation of living at Carly’s house temporarily for three weeks when Carly goes on vacation and permanently at the end of April when Carly moves back to the states.

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