Nuestra Casa

We have now been living in our wonderful apartment for a little bit over a month now. I took some photos to fill you in. We are living in an apartment above a house. We have a shared balcony with the apartment that shares the second level on a very tranquila (calm) street. We are about a block and a half away from the school where we work, with many of our students as our neighbors…which is a positive, but can be a negative.

We have a zinc roof, but it’s closed off on the inside. We have running water, but in order to use the running water we have to plug the pump into an outlet… so we try to only do this once a day, and bathe and wash dishes from our large buckets. Our town has power normally about 20+ hours a day, usually going out late morning until sometime in the afternoon (or not at all!). Aaaaand, as of yesterday, we now have internet. And a puppy. =]

I’ll give you the grand tour:
Here is Luna! We have had her for about ten days now, and she fits in quite nicely. She is what we like to call a Dominican Shepherd, which is just a Dominican mutt/street dog. I like to think we found one of the better looking ones! Luna means moon in Spanish. She currently loves to run under our bed and dig tunnels through all of our crap we have crammed under there. The number one question we get from Dominicans about her is whether she understands Spanish or English.
This is the view of our front door/window. The balcony is outside of this door. You can see our beautiful shelf built from boards and cinder blocks.
Here, I am standing at the front door. Keegan and I built our couch, which comes in handy when having friends stay over (hint, hint)!
Further along is the kitchen, with the table that Keegan built with some help from some friends. We have started to let people draw on the table, but keep it covered because we get weird looks from our Dominican friends.
More into the kitchen. Pretty self-explanatory. Luckily since we are the first ones living here it is nice and clean, and not too many bugs (yet?)!
On to the bathroom. Fully-tiled, can’t complain. In the shower is our large bucket of water for our bucket baths and for flushing the toilet.
And our bedroom, which we have done the least amount of work in. Basic, but we have a bed!
Finally, our closet. Pretty overcrowded right now. Our next project is building shelves and possibly a desk in the bedroom that will help with all the clutter. =]
AND, if you look reeeeeally closely out through the bedroom window, between the two apartment buildings, past the electrical post, you can see the ocean!!!!
Peace, love, and pickle juice.


PCDR House Hunters International

Keegan and I have looked at probably 15-20 different apartments. It’s exhausting. We have been absolutely sure we have found the one about 4 times, only for some reason or another it falls through. We did look at one house, but it’s a duplex next to three men with guns sticking out of their pants so we opted to not rent that one.

SO, where do I start?

The first apartment we looked at was a little, one bedroom apartment that has roof space about 4x as much as the apartment, but it was not very secure with some leaking in the roof. We could afford it, though!
Then I remember looking at a tiny, basement studio apartment that smelled like wet rats and had no windows. Easy no.
Next, we looked at a few gorgeous apartments with ocean views from the balcony, tiled-floors, extra water tanks, glass windows, all the works. These were about 8,000-10,000 dominican pesos, about twice as much as we can afford. This is when I started getting crabby.

Over the next couple of weeks we looked casually, while working on our community diagnostic. Since our community was originally built as government projects, the majority of the original building apartments are the same: three bedrooms, living room, small kitchen, and small balcony. We started exploring these.
We saw a range from the lowest quality (cement floors, kitchen with only a sink, and the old metal, slatted windows) to refinished (tiled floors/bathrooms/kitchens, closet/kitchen cabinets, new sink, glass windows, extended balcony, extra water tank). The bare minimum of these is still about 5,500 dominican pesos. We could pull it off, but having to also pay for luz and agua makes it difficult on our salary.

In the middle of this, we received a call from our APCD (boss). She told us that… drum roll… we’re getting a raise since we’re in a tourist area!! Woo!! This changed things and all the sudden we could afford some of these apartments!
We decided to try for one we fell in love with from the beginning…with an ocean view. We went to tell the owner buuuut, he had just rented it the day before.
Then we went to our neighbors who had a semi-updated apartment with a GIGANTIC balcony… but they were waiting on someone to come sign the lease the NEXT day.
FINALLY, we settled on another apartment for RD$6,000 that was semi-updated, small balcony, view of the park and basketball courts. We went and shook hands, and started waiting the three days for someone from PC to come look at it to OK before we could sign a lease and put down our deposit.

Then what happens?? Our APCD emails and said SORRY, the directors have to think about your raise now because too many people are asking. So now we can’t afford this apartment that we had started picking out paint colors and making plans to fix the kitchen. And we had to break the news to the neighbors who were overly excited to have us rent their extra apartment.

So this was about two weeks ago. This is about when I started pulling my hair out. Being married and trying to fit your whole life into one bedroom while living with a woman and her three teenagers (15, 16, 16) is rough. Especially when you haven’t had your own space for about 4 months.

NOW, we had our friend show us this nice, spacious one-bedroom apartment that is currently under-construction about a block from the school. No view, but it has tiled-floors, open kitchen, removable shower head (NOBODY HAS SHOWER HEADS!!!), and a nice shared balcony. Zinc roof, but it’s finished on the inside so you can’t tell when you’re in there. AND WE CAN AFFORD IT! YAY! So what have we been waiting for the last 8 days? The man to come install the doors and cabinets. When is he supposed to come? 7 days ago.

Sooo… we’re waiting. Then we have to wait for PC to come approve it so we can sign a lease and pay a deposit. Then do we get to move in right away?? No, we have to wait for them to take the deposit money and install bars on the front glass window (the rest are metal slatted windows). =]

This has been our PCDR House Hunter International Episode. We’ll keep you updated on if we actually get the place. I would post photos, but at this point everything could still fall through. =]