Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Humble Abode

The Peace Corps tries to put us in a secure and comfortable, but not luxurious, house. Let me take you on a tour of my little cottage, which was built next door to my landlord's house. I took some pictures using a “fisheye” lens, which provides a wider angle, allowing you to see more of a room in the picture. I was so eager to use this lens that I didn't stop to clean house before snapping pictures—so please overlook my “less than pristine” housekeeping. First, before we go in the front door, I will share a picture showing my view of the Atlantic Ocean from my front porch.
The next picture shows the main room. You can see the camping hammock I purchased from Sears about 25 years ago which I brought with me. I don't have a couch or an armchair, but I get to hang out in a hammock on a tropical island. My hammock is connected diagonally to the built-in “burglar bars” on the windows. It isn't that we have much crime in my village—it is just that these protective bars are common in the Caribbean (and required by the Peace Corps).
The chair in the left corner holds the Internet router I got back in November. The other corner has a small two-shelf table. The round table in the center is where I work and eat (unless I'm sitting outside on my porch). My daughter sent me the Mountaineer flag, which provides a nice backdrop for videoconferencing. You can also see a small, green Dominican flag between the two doors leading to the bedrooms on the right side.

The picture below shows the spare bedroom, which I treat as a walk-in closet. There were a few hooks on the left side wall, but I tied a rope between the burglar bars in this room to let me hang up more clothes. The bed itself provides lots of storage room.

The next picture shows my room, with the mosquito net over the bed and a nice rug the landlord provided. I have a small dresser with a wooden cabinet placed on top of it on the right side. There are a few hooks on the left side wall, where I hang some jeans and the light windbreaker that I have never had to wear yet. If you look close below the hanging clothes, you can see the large fan at the foot of the bed which made summer nights bearable (because I tilted the camera to match the bed, the fan is actually at the bottom edge of this picture). I'm lucky that my landlord got me a fan with a remote control, so that as summer turned into winter, I could turn off the fan in the middle of the night without getting out of bed. It is very convenient.
The picture below shows my little bathroom. Look close and you can see the electric wiring that leads to the showerhead water heater. Also note that I strung a rope across the curved shower curtain rod so that I could hang stuff to dry (like the washcloth shown). The small window has horizontal louvers (which are closed) and vertical burglar bars on the inside.
The next picture shows my little kitchen. On the left side is the refrigerator, with a WVU basketball magnetic schedule on the freezer door and a loaf of bread on the top. When I moved in, there was a black trashbag over the stove top, so I have continued covering it when I'm not using it. If you look close, you might be able to see the blue gas bottle to the right of the stove (it has an empty pizza box on top of it, from the only pizza I have had down here—you must retain such “trash” because you never know when you might need a cardboard box for something). When your gas runs out (which can happen at any time without notice), you must detach the tank and carry it down to the store at the main road to get another one (assuming it is open so you can quickly resume cooking).
Also note that lower left quarter of the window above the sink is covered with black plastic. The tall, round, white tank in front of that plastic is my Peace Corps water filter apparatus. I fill the top part with water from our spring, and it drips through ceramic/charcoal filter into the lower chamber. There is a black spigot near the bottom (towards the sink) where I get my filtered water. I put up the black plastic on the window to block the direct sunlight, which was causing algae growth in my upper tank.

My cottage is not a large place, and the furnishings are rather spartan, but it works well for me. I especially enjoy my front porch, where I can see the ocean. To finish this story, here is a panoramic view from my front porch. I feel blessed to live here.

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