Thursday, March 26, 2009

living "comfortably"

Since I wrote my last entry about how I’ve adapted to living here, I’ve been thinking about my lifestyle. I wrote that I live “comfortably” on my US$300 a month, which is true. But I think maybe I should take this opportunity to say a little more about how I actually live here, if only to keep everyone from getting too jealous of me.

First of all, my house. It’s undeniably sweet, especially by Peace Corps standards: three bedrooms, indoor bathroom, kitchen sink, tin roof AND ceilings (a lot of people have a tin roof but no ceiling, so there’s like a gap between the roof and the wall and birds get in), tile floors (some people only have cement, or dirt), and a big cistern in the backyard.

But there are downsides, of course. For starters, on my Peace Corps stipend, the only furniture I have is plastic lawn furniture. This is fine—my tables and chairs meet my basic furniture needs, and they are easy to move and clean. Still, when I go visit people and sit on their padded couches, I do feel the occasional pang of longing. Then there are my electricity and water situations, which are sporadic. I generally get luz a few hours on, a few hours off throughout the day, which is really only annoying when the few hours off end up being 6-9pm. The water is more of a problem, since my town only has running water a few days a week (and then only when there is also electricity, since the pump that distributes water to houses is electric). I’m pretty set, since as I mentioned I have a big cistern, so I can fill buckets and drag them inside, but it’s definitely way nicer to have running water, let me assure you.

Then there’s something I never really considered before, but: glass windows and window screens are both super useful for keeping out dirt and insects. I have neither; instead, my windows are covered with metal slats called persianas, which are either open—thus letting in sunlight, breezes, dust, and mosquitoes—or closed, keeping everything out (kinda). As such, my house requires more sweeping and dusting than I am actually willing to do. Also, there are more mosquitoes than I would prefer to have. I sleep under a mosquito net, though usually one or two get in there with me.

There’s also the food situation, which for me actually isn’t that big of a problem, thanks to the huge influx of nonperishable groceries (and candy) my parents brought me, plus the lovely care packages I get from lovely people like you. But basically: Dominican food (and thus Dominican grocery stores) lacks variety.

Anyway, I’m writing this up not to complain—after all, I signed on for this, and frankly I was expecting worse. So I guess I’m blogging about my vida a) again, so you guys know not to be too jealous of my lovely, lazy Peace Corps existence and b) so you guys know: living in a developing country—not that bad. (Depending on the country. And the region of the country.) And maybe c), so that you guys don’t take your electricity and water for granted (but also so you know that it’s not actually that hard to live without it, at least not all the time).

1 comment:

The Squirrel said...

Don't forget the lack of a car--walking on lousy roads to get public transportation.

You might also want to add roosters--and the general loudness one encounters.

You might also add the bucket bath and bucket flush.

Also your laundry method. Washer & dryer??