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I am tired of fixing other people’s things for them.

We arrived in Morocco the end of August and moved into a furnished apartment, not our own.  Everything there belonging to someone else. We stayed there for September and October, and during that time we broke and replaced several glasses, fixed the shower when it broke, and rehung the laundry lines.

The handle to one of the pots was tenuous at best when I started using it, so I didn’t worry about it when it broke off quite early in our stay.

We arrived in this current apartment, also not ours, the third week of November (after a trip to Spain and a stay in a friend’s basement, where we replaced a shower curtain rod). We vacate tomorrow, although we’ll be back next month. We are spending our time sorting our things out from the things already here, pulling books and DVDs off shelves, remembering which are ours and which aren’t and who we borrowed which books and DVDs from. We are emptying drawers and folding clothes and finding things that we lost 2 moves ago, which is fun. Still no sign of that library book though. I wonder if it got tossed overboard on the ferry? Seems unlikely, but then, it seems unlikely that we wouldn’t be able to find it anywhere. Seriously, have you seen it?

One of the problems with staying in people’s houses is that the second law of thermodynamics is alive and well here in Africa. Things fall apart. (bonus point: correctly identify the author of the novel by that name without googling it. How does the title fit the novel? How does the novel fit this post, or does it? What do you mean you haven’t read the novel? Discuss.)

We’ve essentially sub-let both these places, paying rent and utilities. So how responsible are we when, for example, the toilet goes on the blitz, or the shower head springs a leak? We’ve only been here 2 months; these things long pre-date us. But we’re the ones here when they break.

The owner (okay, technically he rents it too, but the rental contract is in his name and the furniture is his) arrives tomorrow. So it makes sense to me that in the last week or so, things have started to really break down.

We have replaced the shower head but not the broken toilet. We have not called an electrician for the fact that suddenly, the light in the dining area (I.e. the main area of the house) doesn’t work, although we began by replacing light bulbs and went on to some amateur electric work which fortunately left no permanent scars. We were only startled, not hurt, when the hot water heater exploded in flame the other night; it died out quickly and still works as well as it ever did (which isn’t saying much; when you turn on the cold water tap, the hot water stops. Dish-doing is an exercise in burnt fingers and patience).

Obviously, we will pay for any damage we do. We’ve broken an inordinate share of glasses, because I believe in child labour chores. We bought new ones. That’s simple. But what about all the maintenance of a place. Is that included in a sub-let?

Discuss in comments.

January 2009

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