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We have begun to look for a house, a home and hearth, a castle, a room to call one’s own. So far, not so good. But honestly, that’s what I expected. I expect to look at many houses that are too big, too small, too expensive, too well-used, too gross, and too overwhelming before we find anyplace that we could actually imagine ourselves living. I think this is true anywhere, but it seems to be especially true in Africa. Last time we had to look for a house on this continent, we looked at over 100 houses and it took 2 months of living in Tim and Debbie‘s guest room. I’m hoping for something a bit less painful this time around, but my hopes aren’t high–according to the real estate agent (a profession not known for their honesty), there has recently been an enormous influx of Europeans into this city, and they all want to live in the same area that we do! What a coincidence. When we told one that we wanted to reflect on the apartment he had just shown us, he said, “Yes, take your time, but be quick about it!”

On Thursday, Donn went to look at an apartment. He took Elliot with him (long story; because we were coming home from school with all 3 very heavy backpacks so the twins and I caught a taxi home). It was very dramatic. Oh not the apartment, which only had 2 bedrooms plus had a decomposing rat just out side the kitchen, which I feel is rather off-putting for potential renters of the American persuasion.

On the way back, stopped in traffic, Donn saw someone attack a policeman with a large stick. Yikes! Other cops came running, and it took 3 or 4 to subdue him, in the course of which they all slammed against the car Donn and Elliot were in. Meanwhile, hundreds of people were surrounding the car, angling for a better view of what was going on.

Afterwards, Donn asked Elliot what he thought about what had just happened. Elliot replied thoughtfully, “I’m trying to decide if that was more violent than a Bourne movie.”

Today we saw another apartment, one that actually has some potential, especially if we give up our dream of having a guest room and a garden, and indulge our new dream of a rooftop garden and a teensy tiny view of the sea in the distance, and of making all 3 kids share a tiny room so that I could have that one breezy corner room as my office. It was on the top floor, but the building has, exceptionally, an elevator.

Now elevators don’t usually excite me all that much, but I have to say this one was remarkable. To begin with, it was tiny. 3 of us, Donn and I and the owner, squeezed in. He shut the swinging door to the hall. I expected, when he pressed the button in the pitch black, that another door would slide shut, locking us into the elevator and preventing me from catching my fingers in between floors. Nope. No door. No lights. Just a slow silent swooshing up 4 flights of stairs. I passed the time indulging my morbid imagination and picturing how much fun this would be with curious two-year-old twins, for example.

Tomorrow, we’ll contact someone’s landlord, who might have a place. We’ll see; I’m sure we’ll see lots. I’ll keep you posted.

September 2008

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