Friday, May 16, 2014

House Hunters Peru

On Saturday, May 10th I showered and got dressed at my house in Arizona knowing that I wouldn't change my clothes or shower again until Monday.  I took a red eye from LAX to Lima (sleeping on a plane is not super-awesome) where I then got on a bus and took a 14 hour overnight bus ride to Piura, Peru where I'll be all summer.  Sleeping on the bus, however, was actually quite comfortable and I slept for eight hours.  And the food they served was so delicious.

When I got to Piura, Eliana's brother-in-law Kenny picked me up at the bus station and I stayed at his house for two days while I looked for a house for Eliana, volunteers and me.  I thought it was going to be a cinch since we already had some leads on a few house.  We looked at a house that had three bedrooms and three bathrooms that was within our budget and sounded perfect on paper.  I got there and it was super-nasty.  I've lived in a dozen or so houses in Latin American and this house would have been by far the worst I would have ever lived in and I didn't want to live there and I knew the volunteers wouldn't want to live there so we kept looking.

It really was like an episode of House Hunters International.  One house was under budget, but only had one bathroom.  One house was in the perfect location and on budget, but they would only sign a year contract.  Another house was in the right location and absolutely perfect, but it was too expensive.  We finally found an apartment on Tuesday afternoon that was right on budget and the right size that they were going to finish remodeling it that day.  After talking to the landlord I walked outside with Kenny to discuss our options, we crossed one house off the list, and then I picked the last apartment and signed the lease. 

It hasn't all been rosy since then.  They said that all the remodeling would be done on Tuesday, but it wasn't done on Thursday when the volunteers arrived.  Apparently in Peruvian time "tonight" really means "probably next week."  One of our showers doesn't work so they've had to turn the water off a bunch while they redo the piping.  We have a window that's a little broken.  There no lights or outlets in the living room.  The toilet has no toilet seat and neither toilet flushes yet so we have flush them with buckets of water.  I felt so bad as I explained the unfinished nature of our apartment to a bunch of girls who have never lived in South America, but everyone seems really cool with it and just see it as part of the adventure.  Oh, and the windows don't have curtains yet (they were supposed to be put up on Wednesday) so the sun wakes me up every morning at six. 

It'll be way nice when it's all done and nine people aren't sharing one bathroom, when we don't have to eat in the dark, when we can flush the toilets, and when Coco our landlord won't be walking around our apartment profusely apologizing for not having everything ready.  Here are some pictures:
Eliana and I had to buy 10 mattresses and the only way to move them was a mototaxi.  We only lost one on the trip back to the apartment (but seriously).  We had to go back and get it.

Our furniture was in storage for nine months and it was literally covered in dust and dirt.  Eliana and I were up until 1:30 am cleaning everything and putting the beds together.  It was tiring. 

We don't have internet in our apartment so our neighbor lets us rob his, but we have to sit outside.  The girls can't live without Instagram.  
This is what it looks like when nine people share a shower.

And this is what it looks like when four girls share one room.

This is view from my bedroom.  I love it.  

The view from one of the girls' rooms.  

My favorite part of our apartment is our rooftop patio.

The view from the roof

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Honesty is the Mexican Policy

On Friday I took a solo road trip to El Paso to visit some friends from my mission.  The plan was to spend the night in El Paso at Irene's house and then spend all day Saturday with my friend Lucero in Juárez just across the border.  Lucero ended up canceling on me so I just stayed in El Paso on Saturday and didn't even get to use my passport. 

Lesly is Irene's daughter and she was seven when I knew her on my mission.  She's 17 now and is way into looking elegant all the time.  She had no problem telling me how shabby I looked.  It had been a year and a half since I last saw her and when she opened the door the first thing she said when I walked in the house was, "Whoa, you have so many grey hairs, Schilaty!"  I told her I'd dye my hair when someone told me to.  She said, "I'm telling you right now that you need to dye your hair.  You look like you're 40!"  Irene walked in a few minutes later and gave me hug.  The first thing she said was, "Look, you have so many grey hairs.  How old are you now?"  I told her that I'm 30 and she said, "No, you look older."  She then told me that I look thinner than I looked the last time she saw me.  I asked, "Did I look fat then?"  She responded, "Not necessarily, you just look healthier now."  They also told me that my eyes super-huge and that my nose is large, but it suits my face.  Mexican honesty is my favorite.

I took the two of them out to dinner and they asked me if I needed time to get ready, but I said I was just going to go dressed how I was.  Lesly, on the other hand had taken two and half hours to get ready.  So I, a tall white guy in jeans and button down shirt, walked into the restaurant with two 5'0 Mexican women dressed like they were on their way to the Oscars.  We must have looked a little silly.  Luckily the power went out at dinner and we sat in the dark for 20 minutes so our lack of coordination was less noticeable. 

Since I didn't go to Juárez on Saturday I spent the morning answering Lesly's questions about how she
Lesly, Edgar, a white dude, and Irene when I visited
El Paso in 2009
should paint her nails and do her hair for senior prom that night.  She was very concerned that her hair wouldn't look good--very concerned.  She showed me tons of pictures on her phone of what she could do with her hair and I just told her what I thought she wanted to hear which seemed to calm her.  She said, "Schilaty, you're such a nerd, but you're cool anyway.  I don't like nerds, but I like you.  You should visit more often."  Lesly gives the best compliments and I really do want to visit them more often because I had blast. 

Even though I didn't end up going to Mexico, I got to spend the weekend speaking Spanish and now I feel much more prepared to be going to Peru this Saturday.