Thursday, December 27, 2007
Did I mention our new home is awesome?
Oh, well it is.
We have lived in our new house for just over a week now, though by the time I can post this entry it will be two.
With the exception of a few amenities (hot water, washer/dryer, hardwood floors, 24-hour gas station convenience store, Wendy’s late-night drive-thru) our little bit of neighborhood here in Sāmoa is much like a neighborhood in Florida.
The house is large. The main room is an open floor plan kitchen and living room combo. The kitchen has tons of counter space, a refrigerator and a gas stove and oven. The kitchen also came already stocked with many items: electric teakettle, dishes, dining room table, etc. We have three bedrooms, one of which is set up as an office. Outside there is a porch that always catches a nice breeze.
Wait a minute? Weren’t we supposed to be roughing it in the Peace Corps?*
*See additional post about how poor we are at roughing it.
Living conditions vary widely from one PCV to the next in here. Some volunteers live with host families their entire two years with either a room of their own in the host family house or their own small fale on the family compound. Some volunteers don’t have host families, but still live in more traditional style Sāmoan fale. Other’s live in more Western-style homes like ours; the volunteer I stayed with on my volunteer visit even had a washing machine. Some people have flats (that’s apartments to you crazy Americans) in town or on a school compound. One guy in our training group is living in a brand new duplex with all the amenities. He says it is nicer than the last place he stayed when he was in college.
Some people have to trek across their compound to get water from a shared tap or water tank. Some people just turn on the tap in their kitchen or bathroom. Some volunteers have become very adept at cooking complex meals in nothing but a rice cooker. Others will be baking brownies today in their gas oven (oh, wait, that one is me).
I think that there are advantages and challenges to all of the living arrangements. Volunteers living with host families may find it easier to integrate into the community but harder to do their own cooking and to find privacy. Volunteers living in more Western situations may have to work harder at practicing their Sāmoan (everyone speaks English to us, everyone) but they might have more control over their living environment and their diet.
Of course, I base all of this on my vast experience of being a volunteer for one full week. Just wait until I have been a volunteer for a whole month, oh the knowledge I will have then.
Posted by Cale