Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In my house!

I finally moved back to Nueva Esperanza! Well, I have to admit that I have been living in my house for almost two months; (I moved April 15) but actually making the house feel like home has taken a lot longer than just the move. In fact, there is still a lot of work to be done before I can finally call it home. But, I am proud to say that by the end of all the construction, I will almost be a professional house-builder!

For those of you who don’t know, it is required for me to live in Nueva Esperanza. Unfortunately, when it was time for me to move out of my host family’s house, there were no housing options for me. So, I had to move to La Campa, the next town over, at the beginning of 2008 and kept waiting for options to open up in Nueva Esperanza. Finally, a woman who lives in La Campa offered to finish a house she has in Nueva Esperanza for me so I could move in there. At the time, I had a few options that I was waiting on but after they all fell through, I told her that would be great. A few days during the construction of my house, I went to help out. Who would have thought that my pre-service training would have come so in handy! I was hauling bricks, mixing cement, laying gravel, and even helped dig out my latrine hole and build the wall to my bathroom! I talked to a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama once who told me he had to build his own house because there was no housing in his community and I remember saying, “Wow I can’t believe you had to BUILD your own house! There is no way I would have done that.” Little did I know . . .

Moving Day was an adventure in itself. To give you an idea of what it was like, think about moving away from home to college. You have packed all of your belongings for the next two years as well as any furniture (bed, shelf, . . .) or appliances (stove) you need because there is absolutely nothing provided for you. Then, imagine having to get all of that stuff to your house without a car and on no paved roads. Okay, so I didn’t exactly throw my bed on my back and hike to my house. Thanks to an ex-pat who lives in La Campa, I was able to transport my things in the back of his pick-up. However, my house was not exactly ready to be moved into when I did. My landlord had promised me that everything would be ready for me to move in mid-March. . . then the end of March . . . then the beginning of April . . . then April 15th at the latest. . . So, I packed all my belongings and then was living out of my boxes for the next month waiting for the house to be ready. I finally just couldn’t wait any longer. I declared, rain or shine, that I was going to move April 15th. When I made the move, the house at that point had running water and electricity but was still missing light bulbs (so much for the electricity), a finished floor, door handles, and window and door locks. My landlord had promised me that the guy who was to put the locks on my doors was coming the next day. So I used long pieces of wood to jam the doors shut so they wouldn’t open in the middle of the night. However, he didn’t come the next day. In fact, my landlord admitted to me that she hadn’t even bought the locks yet. It was around that point that I decided I better help get the ball rolling. I don’t have the knowledge of how to install door locks (the ones that have a key), but I did put on the door handles and other small locks that you can lock from the inside. So when I was inside the house, I could secure everything. But if I had to go anywhere, I had to leave a door open so I could get back in. Finally, a week later, the guy FINALLY came to do the installation and I had some other people help me install the light sockets and light bulbs.

Gradually, though, improvements have been made inside and out. A lot of people have really helped me out from lending me a table to helping build a moat around my house. The rains have started coming and sometimes there’s so much water during some storms that it enters under my door and through my windows, thus the need of the moat. Although that sounds pretty terrible, it doesn’t really mean anything when you have a cement floor. In fact, if anything, it has made me a tidier person because I have to make sure not to leave anything on the ground that can’t get wet. Water drips through the ceiling, too, so I can’t leave anything on the table either.

It’s definitely nice being back in Nueva Esperanza and closer to the people I first developed relations with. When I’m lonely or bored, I have great neighbors that I can go drink coffee and eat mangoes with. In La Campa, I really only slept there and spent the rest of my time in Nueva Esperanza and so didn’t really get to know anyone else except my landlord’s family. And the best part about living in my house is that I am so much more accessible. People can now come and visit me or talk to me about work without having to walk far away or enter someone else’s house. I can finally host people and start to pay back all the free cups of coffee and meals I have received! I have had a few people over for a US “plato tipico” which is a lot of fun and one time when I cancelled my English class, some of my students still came over to hang out. A few days ago, we had an English class dinner at my place which even a little rain inside couldn’t damper the night.

Main room before


Edwin working on my room

End result

The biggest change was taking out this door and putting in a bathroom.

Bathroom after



Some kids from my English class doing a ¨dinamica¨


1 comment:

Mom said...

Hi Courtney,

What fun to see the inside of your cozy adobe and how inviting it looks! All your stories are very interesting and well-written; they truly help your state-side family appreciate everything you do and experience. Thank you for the great photos and your smiling face. Love you, Mom