Hello blogging world!
Sorry it's been so long... It's been quite the past couple of months with moving into my own new place (complete with my VERY OWN set of keys!) and finalizing my choice of two ministry placements (something I'll discuss in my next blog post). Talk about life changes!
I should start with stating that it was through great fortune that I was able to find the place I live. At the beginning of my search I was advised by current and ex-Maryknoll Lay Missioners that the process of finding housing (especially as a single foreign female) in Cochabamba can fall anywhere on the spectrum of horrible to traumatizing. Awesome. That said, I was very grateful when one of the Maryknoll Sisters here in Coch gave me a lead to a small single "casita" owned by a former Maryknoll Language Institute teacher and located in back of a much larger house, currently lived in by a family of renters. This situation allows me to live in my own space while still having the advantage of being able to rely on many eyes (and I mean MANY--this house feels like a clown car sometimes with the amount of people coming and going) making sure my house remains un-robbed when I'm not there (which is actually a big problem in the richer areas of Cochabamba and not just me being paranoid). The rent is a bit steep for my liking (I pay $175/month not including utilities), but the advantages are well worth it--I feel safe coming and going, even at night, I have great access to a large number of trufis (ie the means of public transportation down here), and I live within walking distance of all of my ministry sites as well as a LAUNDROMAT! That's right. I'm a princess. Let's just get it out there right now. Many of the other lay missioners wash their clothes by hand, but with the lack of reliable access to my shared clothes-washing area and my slightly larger lack of desire to wash all of my clothes by hand, I play my princess card every week and walk the 5 blocks to the laundromat where for a mere 20Bs (approx $3) I can wash my laundry and then bring it home to dry all in a matter of 40 minutes.
But enough talking. Onto pictures!
Onto the bathroom. My second favorite room in the house (after the kitchen)! I'm super lucky and actually have gas heated water in my house. (If you remember from one of my first posts, most houses don't have this luxury and thus have suicide shower heads that electrically heat the water immediately before it falls onto your head.) However, due to an article sent to me by another Maryknoll Lay Missioner living in Cambodia (KAREN BORTVEDT!), I have been in the habit of taking cold showers for health benefit and environmental reasons! So there.
Dining room and "living room" next.
And directly across from the dining area is my "living space"--complete with my awesome Grundig radio which self-proclaims "made in W. Germany" and my *massive* refrigerator, that typically remains close to empty most of the time... This fridge is roughly 2-3 times larger than all of the other refrigerators I have seen in other Bolivian houses. The size of the freezer is about as big as the refrigerator's get here... Thank goodness it's very energy efficient!
Next stops on the tour: "study" and kitchen!
and an awesome window! The only thing it doesn't have is a working light, but I'm currently getting by with a small counter-top lamp :)
Now for the outside:
Here's the best picture I could take of the entire outside of my "casita." On the left are the windows into the study, the center are the windows to the dining area, and on the far right, are the windows to my bedroom.
Here's a better look at the clothes washing area, which miraculously is empty right now (it is typically FILLED with clothes soaking to be washed). You can also see my water tank on the left, which I have to check the level of daily to make sure I have enough water for use in my house!
Here's one last look of the outside clothes washing/water tank area from the inside of my study. You can see the water tank a bit better from here (it's the concrete box in the lower right corner with the red lid). You can also see the small walkway I get to use from the street along the two parked cars to get back to my house! It can sometimes pose a bit of a challenge with lots of groceries :)
A few other interesting Bolivian logistics:
First is the trash. Here there is no curbside pick-up. Instead the garbage truck comes 2-3 times a week and bangs a large metal rod against the outside of the truck to alert the neighborhood of its presence. In my neighborhood, this happens every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 7:15am. At this point, everyone (who have been waiting outside in their pajamas) carries their trash to the truck. I'm lucky and actually have a spot about half a block from my house where you can put your trash and have it picked up when the truck passes by. However, it's not a good idea to put your trash out the night before or too early in the morning, otherwise the dogs get into it and it gets spread ALL OVER the street!
Second is the water. The water in Cochabamba is not clean enough to drink straight out of the faucet, so instead, I boil my drinking water in a large pot on my stove every day to every two days. Many others buy large water jugs (5 gallons? 10 gallons?) of drinkable water--which is actually very affordable at approx. $1.50 a jug.
And third is my NEIGHBORS :) I think I can safely say that as a whole, Bolivians seem to be very interested in what is going on with e.v.e.r.y.o.n.e around them. This means that since I live within sneezing distance from the house in front of me, they tend to be all up in my business. All the time. It's something we're working on :) Out of the crew, the person I like the best is their live-in "empleada" or maid. Her name is Elizabeth, she's 22 and is from the Potosi area of Bolivia. She has dreams of studying to become a nurse someday (!!) and is very sweet. I wish I had a picture of her to share with you, but I don't. That will have to wait for another blog!
Ok. I think that's it! That's my house! As you can see, although not prefect, I do have a room that can easily be used to accommodate guests, so if you find yourself itching for a Bolivian adventure, COME ON DOWN :)