>> Sunday, September 21, 2008
"I want to come home but there's a potential stabbing outside. I am both intrigued and scared" was the text message Paul sent me a few hours ago from our old house. Just as soon as we moved away, the whole neighborhood seems to have fallen apart. The borrachos must have been on their best behavior to impress Dora and me because now that we're gone, it seems like there is always outrageous drunken debauchery going on. We never had any major problems--mostly battles of will with the neighborhood alcoholics that wanted to sit and/or pass out on our stoop--but we never felt entirely comfortable and decided that when our contract expired we would try to move.
Our last house search took forever, so this time we took a wait-and-see approach. We looked at a couple of houses that were either too expensive or not much of an improvement. It helped, too, that our site-mate John was also looking for a house to live in; he told us about all of the places he found but couldn't afford, and decided that he would move into our old house, despite its flaws, if we left. One of the houses he found for us was right by the baseball stadium, about 5 blocks from the central park, and we moved in 3 weeks ago.
The house is a huge improvement over our old house, both in terms of location and the actual house. The biggest improvements in our quality of life have been that 1) the house has a real kitchen, and 2) most of the house has real ceilings. The ceilings might not seem like a big deal, but the old house only had the zinc roof supported by wood beams. Stuff was always falling from the ceiling so that the floors could never be swept and mopped enough, and there was always a thick layer of dust and dirt on tables, chairs, our bed, and any other flat surface.
Here's a sample of our lovely ceilings looking out to the garage area and our office:Here's our kitchen. We're thrilled to have dirty dishes in the sink because that means we have a sink!
To the right of this kitchen area is our fridge, purified water bottle, and laundry area.This house doesn't have an outside patio, so we have to hang our clothes inside. Part of the roof is clear, though, so it gets pretty bright and pretty hot in there and we haven't had trouble with getting clothes to dry. The bedrooms are on the left in this hallway and you can sort of see one of our bathrooms on the right.The one big disadvantage of a house with ceilings is that we can't hang our hammocks inside. The closest thing we've found to replace them are our sillas pereszosas (lazy chairs). Our new house is in the hammock-making district of town, so we bought the one on the right from some neighbors down the street, and we got to pick out custom colors. They do recline, but it's not quite as nice a La-Z-Boy.And the hammock is relegated to the garage area. It doesn't get as much use as it used to, but it's nice to sit out there when it's raining to watch all the trash float by.
Here is our guest suite and the tijera (scissor) bed:Dora seems to have adjusted quite well:
Now that she's finally finished her eight-week recovery, she's happy to be playing catch and fetch and going on walks. And don't worry--it took her all of about 5 minutes to find a new gaggle of little girls to shower all her cuteness on:
Here's the view from the street. You can see how super-secure the house is; the garage is closed in with bars, as are the window and door inside the garage.Here's the view from Masaya's Malecón (boardwalk maybe?) of the Laguna de Masaya and Volcán Masaya in the background. The Malecón is one and a half blocks from our house:
Overall, we've been very pleased with our decision to move and with the new place. I think it's a little bit closer to the center of town and to our schools, and the neighborhood bus passes half a block from our house to take us to the market. It took no time at all to find reliable places to buy beans, Coca Cola (I feel I should be more specific than just "Coke" after Update Part Two), and we've already befriended the workers at the neighborhood cyber cafés. The neighborhood is much quieter; there are far fewer bombas (loud, exploding fireworks) and fewer people that share their unique taste in music with the whole neighborhood early in the morning. The combination of the ceilings and having houses on both sides of ours also work really well to insulate the house from whatever noise there might be outside. We're pretty sure that we moved just in time since the three-month-long fiestas patronales begin next Sunday; we'll keep you updated as the house gets put to the test as countless marching bands go by.