I've moved around a lot as an adult. Since graduating high school, I have changed residences a grand total of 30 times and have lived in 27 different domiciles. That's right, I moved back into my parents' house four times, much to their delight. Honestly, I am so grateful to have had that option. My life was not always sabai, sabai (Thai expression meaning "comfortable; relaxed"). I don't know what I would have done without my parents' love and support (and shelter). Not everyone is so lucky.
When it came time for me to move into my rental house here at site, I must admit, I was pretty excited. I had been living with host families for my first four months in Thailand and was ready to be on my own. Don't get me wrong, my families were super sweet and gracious, but I had lived on my own for the past ten years. And then, there were all of the cultural differences (eating, showering, sleeping, etc.). Let's just say, I was ready to regain some control over my daily routines.
I almost didn't move into the house I am currently in. My program manager had lined up the only available rental house during her site identification visit last fall, but it just didn't feel like me. The energy was off. And when it comes to picking a house (and friends), I'm all about the energy. I never understood how people could sign a lease without ever stepping foot into a place. Something could look good on paper but have some serious serial killer vibes in person. Anyways, a week before the move-in date, I casually heard about a second rental house that had become available. It was across the street from the first one and suited me much better. Once I found out it passed all of the Peace Corps' non-negotiable housing requirements, I made arrangements to move in on May 1st.
The first thing that stood out to me about the house was the high ceilings. My last residence was a small cottage in Austin and felt cramped at times. But this is the kind of place that makes you want to dance around in your underwear, like you're in a warehouse loft-turned-dance studio (just missing the full-length mirrors). Then, there's the six-inch gap between the ceiling and the roof, which is common in rural areas here. This allows for breeze to flow through, but it also gives all the critters easy access to my abode. I live next to a small forest, so I've had scorpions, spiders, lizards, rats, all manner of insect, and even a snake! Inside my house. I have to sweep the whole house at least once a day or else the excrement would just accumulate too fast. The enclosed bedroom is much-appreciated...
My place doesn't have air conditioning, but I have procured several fans through purchase and donation. Sometimes it just feels like a bunch of hot air being pushed around the room, but it's better than stagnation and seems to keep the mosquitos at bay. My body eventually thermo-regulated, but I definitely sweat a bunch that first month. I do not have a sink, which is one thing I never thought I would have the opportunity to miss. I have a small back porch area with water buckets, where I do dishes, wash my hands, and brush my teeth.
My bathroom is accessible via this area and consists of a squat toilet (which warrants its own blog entry), a drain, and two large water buckets. I typically take a cold bucket shower in the morning, which does a good job of waking me up.
The water that you bathe, clean, and flush with comes from the outside taps. Drinking and cooking water is delivered in the form of large water cooler bottles that you need to funnel into smaller 1.5-liter bottles (a fun process by yourself) and store strategically around your kitchen.
The gas stove is directly connected to a green gas tank, which I have to manually open and close. I always think that I forgot to close it. I have two large wooden front doors that really open up the place (spatially-speaking, but also to the neighbors), as well as a bunch of large windows that help rake in the natural light.
While this place may have taken more adjustment time than my previous domiciles, it's starting to feel like home now. When I'm returning from a trip, I think to myself, "I can't wait to get home!" The house is a big part of that, but so are the people surrounding it. My community here has made me feel at home, and for that, I am forever grateful.