01 February 2007

My Apartment on Avenida Vladimir Lenine

My study base where I check my email, analyze data (when I get some), write my blog, and talk to my sweetie Chris. And yes, that is a parquet wooden floor. The black mark under my desk came with the apartment and just tells me that the previous renter had their desk in the same spot and had dirty shoes. The walls are spackle over cement, making hanging things difficult. I'm using white sticky tack, so if I can't remove it all when I leave, university housing might not be able to tell the difference.

The Kitchen. I haven't had too many cockroaches yet. That probably has a lot to do with the little geckos that live in the corners. They are very cute, but camera shy. The counter top is marble on one side. My stove runs on electricity and gas, but I only have electricity. I suppose I could buy gas, but I don't really cook all that much. It's too hot. Sandwiches are good when you have the right kind of bread.

The bathroom with all the mod cons. I have hot running water, but I haven't used it yet. Cold showers are more lukewarm than cold. In Mozambique's sauna like heat, cold to lukewarm feels pretty good though. The shower curtain doesn't do much in the way of keeping water in. So I learned quickly how to contort myself to prevent large amounts of water from ending up on the floor. I mop up the rest. Can you detect a yellow and white color scheme yet?

My bed and dresser with the door opening onto my little patio overlooking the street. My bed is only located about 4 feet from my desk. A deadly combination for me because I love taking naps. Jessie and I used to talk a lot about bringing yoga mats into the Ecolab and taking an afternoon siesta. In hindsight, that might not be such a good idea for me. Being able to sleep where you work just means you end up working lots more and take way more naps.

My living room, which doesn't actually see me much. Its more of a book and dirty laundry storage space. I have cable, but really don't have any interest in watching TV (and yes, I can get English-language programming if I like).

I have one more room in my apartment. I has an extra bed and dresser, but I keep it shut because otherwise my apartment feels even bigger than it already is. Overall, my apartment is huge - way bigger than the one I live in on Roger Road Graduate and Family housing.

So what do basic necessities cost?
I pay $300 rent, plus $12 for electricity, ~$5 for water, $90 for cable/internet service, $30 for cleaning, and $8 for building guard salary. I believe that part of my rent may be subsidized, as other people have told me apartments usually rent for $500-$600 a month in my area. It is university housing which also might be part of that. So, I pay about $445 a month for a bigger apartment than I rent in the States. Today, I had 2 windows fixed in my apartment, which took pretty much all day to do. Sr. Jaime, the man who fixed them, also works as a part-time guard at my apartment. Total cost of supplies and labor was $20.

Food is relatively cheap and fresh. I think I might be spending about $80 a month for groceries which includes non-food items - but I live alone, eat vegetarian, and go out for a beer only once in a while. I did find out from some little boys on their way home from school that I can get a soft-serve vanilla ice cream cone for $0.12. That was fun and I didn't get sick. A 1/2 kilo of tomatoes or mangoes costs $0.50. A box of juice (100% juice, no added sugar, from Ceres) is $1. A half dozen eggs (they only sell brown eggs, no difference from the white kind) for $0.84 which is a little more spendy than the states, but I need the protein. Dry beans are still cheap - less than $1 for 2 kilos. Rice is $1 per kilo. Peanut butter is expensive at $4 a jar. Good bread (European style) is $0.14 a loaf. I don't buy the pre-sliced kind because it gets moldy before I can eat it. Some green foods aren't meant to be eaten. Plus, I already have a supply of anti-biotics.

Chapas (minibus taxis) and buses are 5 metacais (~$0.20) per ride. I'm not sure how much car insurance and fuel expenses run here though. A round trip bus ticket to Nelspruit, if you definitely plan to go the day you buy the ticket for, is $25. Walking is free but sweaty. ;-)

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