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Monday, August 25, 2014

A Treatise on Temporary Spaces

My partner and I have a pretty non-traditional lifestyle at the moment, as most of you are aware. In our passive vagabonding, the plan is to be transients in each new locale. Conceptually speaking, we aren't planting roots anywhere.

What this literally means is I can't plant flowers, or vegetables, or buy appliances, or get a rug for this hideous floor.

And this adaptation to the actual temporary nature of each place is a bit hard.

Jorge and me, we're nesters. Maybe me more than him. Though we're travelers, we like to make each little space our own. And we like to be comfortable.

Most Latin American countries are really well-equipped for people like us. There has always been a very large population of travelers, long stay-ers, students, and visiting artists. So there is no shortage of completely outfitted apartments for rent on a short-term basis, or even just bedrooms available in a shared house.

We saw many of these in Lima, prior to selecting our shoe box. In Valparaiso and even Puerto Varas, it was the same. A wide variety of furnished and unfurnished complete apartments and single rooms. Some owners are lenient about who they let live there. Others demand proper visas and a long-term commitment. But there's always someone out there who will work with you, depending on what you're doing.

This is how it normally goes...signs posted informally in the street.
"I rent rooms." This was taken in Valpo during my first apartment hunt.

Jorge and I lucked out here in Lima. Our apartment is sort of like, the after-thought attic of this family's apartment. They have a sprawling place, really -- as big as a regular one-story house -- with an upstairs patio and bathroom. They added on to this with three individual mini-apartments I.E. shoe boxes.

Ours is one of these. On a quiet night, you can hear the neighbor peeing.

But the owners are awesome -- they agreed to a 3-month lease, no problem, can extend for longer if we want, moderate price, super safe neighborhood, and two blocks from the ocean. Fine.

They have two youngish daughters, and the whole family is really laidback and approachable. Their 12 year old daughter is fascinated by me, and always volunteers to be the message bearer when the owners want to call our attention. All huge pluses for landlordship.

But our mini?

Our mini is a brand new venture on their part. And as more time wears on, it feels more and more like Tom Hanks in The Money Pit.

Though nobody has fallen through any holes in the floor, we find new and baffling issues on a regular basis. I think it started with the lack of a kitchen and just snowballed from there.

Since that time, we've found and dealt with a leaking sink, which in turn saturated 24 rolls of toilet paper that were in the cabinet beneath the sink. ("Dealing with it", in this case, is no longer using the cabinet, which comprises like, 40% of the storage space in our kitchen.)

A nice view for the drying toilet paper...before it sees our butts, anyway.

Then we had the Great Shower Debacle, which was that every time you took a shower, the bathroom turned into a tiny pool, due to the location of the shower head. They fixed that after about 3 weeks. Thank god, because every shower required a 15-minute clean-up session immediately afterward.

The sink in the kitchen, for some reason, still refuses to function without splashing everything in a five foot vicinity, even though the landlord put on this sexy hose meant to curb exactly that.

It's like an elephant snout that constantly sneezes.
Please note the perpetually moist wall beyond. 

My desk, which is a plank of wood somehow attached to the wall, is now falling out of the wall, which makes me afraid to leave my laptop on it or, you know, touch it.

The landlords, at the beginning of our stay, exchanged the double bed for a queen size bed, and in doing so provided us with a new bed frame. It was brand new, recently stained wood. We were really grateful, but it to this day still smells like a combination of farm and wet dog.

The water in Lima is...strange. We don't drink it -- there's plenty of bottled water, so no worries about the intestinal infections, family -- but it smells. Some days worse than others. I know on the grand scale it's better than some areas, and I shouldn't complain. But it was another blip on the radar as we adjusted to life in Lima.

And just a personal note: White tiled floors anywhere (be it bathroom, like here in Lima, or in my old kitchen in Valparaiso) is always a bad idea. Add a very hairy Argentinian partner to the mix and it's just a never-ending sweeping struggle.

That said, we love our little shoebox, and love that we have a temporary home that is safe and serves all of our needs (those that don't include baking, that is).

And it will do just fine until we hop to the next temporary space, which I'm sure will bring it's own set of fascinating and baffling intricacies...which I will then immortalize forever in my blog.

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