I knew in moving here I would encounter a vast array of creepy crawlies and I was prepared, sort of. After all I am from Chicago, the home of giant rats that would give some cats a run for their money, I have starred them down in many a times in our alley late at night. We have spent the last week cleaning our new place, usually going over for about 2-6 hours a day just to clean. Now part of this is because it is larger than our place in Chicago (which is so weird and will take some time to get used to) but mostly this is because it has been a good long while since it was really cleaned……like maybe never. We found some local cleaning products, rags, and sponges from some dukas and also made some glass cleaner with vinegar. We were armed and ready. The toilet cleaner they sell here is actually 22% hydrochloric acid and it is crazy strong, like makes your eyes water and burns your skin off strong (we have the sores to prove it). We used 4 entire bottles to clean the two bathrooms and although I am usually opposed to using such harsh chemicals, trust me, it was needed. We sprayed the walls with the acid and black sludge leeched from the tile. We then would rinse and repeat the burn off all the nasty process about 4 times until bleach and water could be used and then came scrubbing (a note for all concerned….Annikah was happily sleeping at our friend’s house while we were using body chemistry altering products). Each room also has these great built in carved shelving units (they are extra storage space as there are no closets). Those were pretty brutal to clean as well; inside was always an adventure in bravery as there were many of my crawly friends, some alive and some dead, and a ton of lizard poop (well, I think it was lizard poop although I am no expert in feces it was someone’s and not mine). After all my efforts in poop scrubbing I will actually have space to put things. The ironic part is that when we lived in Chicago we never seemed to have enough storage space for all our stuff and now that we moved to Africa we have a bigger place with plenty of storage but no stuff to fill it.
During our cleaning escapades I encountered 11 spiders (when I started counting) some of them pretty amazingly huge and hairy. At first they made me jump a bit (call me a wuse, I know) but after number 5 I was pretty used to it. While I was opening and cleaning windows a lizard about 5 inches long ran up through the window and just hung out on the sill. I have of course seen lizards and spiders before but without any ability to shut windows here (no glass) I feel as though we are going to get pretty tight over the next few years. Plus, I have heard that spider and lizards are good because they eat other nasty bugs that you do not want in your place; so I say welcome home lil’ buddies! There are however, some crawlies that are not welcome. When we walked up to our house the first time there were a ton of small ants. If you stand for more than 5 seconds your feet and legs will be covered. I made the local fundi laugh with my “get these things off me dance.” In addition to being disgusting the lil’ boogers also pack a sting. We sprayed with RAID and even tried that acid stuff down the holes they appeared to be crawling out of. The next day they were still hanging out and appeared to not be affected. Since we have to run to our front door and anyone who comes to visit will be attacked we are not allowing them to stay, kerosene and a match is our next plan of defense.
It is the best feeling to have the cleaning almost done as we are one step close to moving in. After buying a used fridge and a used oven (they are pretty costly here) we moved them in as well only to find out that the oven does not work. Luckily we had negotiated a 1 month warranty of sorts and so Jason and our friend Eddie loaded it up and took it back to the guy we bought it from to have his fundis work on it. Jason and Eddie are out today getting a mattress for Anni’s big girl bed and hopefully picking up the oven. It is such a blessing to have some friends here as they already speak the language well and have helped us in getting the necessities for our house as well as introducing us to many of the local shop owners. We have started gathering some food items and soon we will be on our own…I feel a lot of rice and guacamole coming on until I can figure out just how to cook here. It still feels so bizarre to be starting over but we are ready to settle in after almost 2 months of traveling and living out of our backpacks. Reality of the workload involved in just living in setting in but we hope to find someone to help with our housework (cooking, washing, and language learning) soon. That will also take some getting used to but I know that without some help I will be stuck in the house all day and never able to build relationships here. The locals also seem to really mistrust Mzungus that do not hire local help as they see them as selfish. I think it will also be a blessing for Anni to interact with another woman and learn Kiswahili. We are praying for a good fit and someone we can learn from and that we can bless as well. I know all my mama friends back in the Chi are gonna be jealous of me having someone to help me with the house!!
Last night we were invited over to Iddi’s home to meet his sisters and mother. We drank some coconut water and had some fried potatoes and peanuts that his mother makes and sells in the neighborhood. It was awesome to be invited in and to see how locals live, makes me really think that many of the things I think of as necessities really are not to most people here. We are really trying to find a balance between our cultural norms, the culture surrounding us, the desire to live simplify but safely,what God wants for us, and the goal of building relationships here. Tough issues but for now I will concentrate on obliterating the fire ants….