Sunday, December 16, 2007

November 29, 2007 - Shopping for Unfurnished House

Wow! We are almost done getting STUFF for the unfurnished apartment!

Unfurnished here means - no (NONE!) appliances or cabinets in the kitchen. A kitchen is defined by a room that has a sink and an electrical connection for a stove - no more.

We moved in Saturday, expecting that at first we could just sleep and shower at the apartment - no problem; we had air mattresses, and we went right out and bought sheets and towels. Our next step was to be able to cook, and finally we wanted to be able to relax and to have company.

--- continued ---

A friend dropped by on our moving day, and lent us a shower curtain and mosquito netting - whew!

We wanted to get a bedframe that could be either two twins or one king, so we contacted a furniture maker and got a quote. Yikes! For a simple platform w/ one side left off, no fancy wood or stains, he wanted $120 each - $240 total! We said we'd think about it. We went to some local furniture stores to see what they had. We saw regular platform bedframes for less than half that amount. We ended up buying a wooden table with 4 chairs and a rocking chair. We decided that being able to sit was also pretty important for our first few days... One problem that we didn't anticipate is that the table didn't quite fit through out door and up the stairwell :( - the delivery guy did finally get it in place, but it got scraped up. We'll have to get some sandpaper at some point and do what we can.

Immediately after that major "oops." we measured the narrowest part with some string - we carried that around with us for the rest of the furniture trips.

After visiting the furniture shop, we headed to Pali for kitchen and cleaning supplies. Got all the important stuff, and then found that they had a nice section of sheets and towels (much cheaper than where I got ours, but also not as thick - I *almost* kicked myself...). Other things we got there - pillows, plates, glasses, silverware - so *now* we are already *way* ahead of where we were in Orosi! We have *four* of everything! I also got one blanket - it is very thin, almost like a thick tablecloth. Since our kitchen has no real counters, we are keeping our dishes in the dish drainer next to the sink - it works pretty well.

So, for the first couple of days, we're sleeping on the floor in the living room. But we have a table and some chairs! We're in the living room because it is the only room that is private - we have no curtains yet... Now curtains! Wow! We went to the ferreteria for metal pipes to hang them on (this time we used the new laundry line as a measuring line). Then we looked for the material - I think I made a mistake going to Llobet's (a high-end department store) for the towels and sheets; the Pali had much cheaper versions. But, we went back to Llobet's to find curtains - none looked like they were heavy enough to give some privacy; we looked for single sheets to hang instead - only sheet sets. I kept thinking about those thin blankets in Pali - as a test, we put one up in the bedroom, and got to move our beds in where they belong :D. That worked well, so on our next trip to Pali, we got a enough for all three big windows. Note: two good things to travel with are a packet of safety pins, and a small sewing kit.

Now - how to get cooking! We'd been glancing in at the electronics/appliance stores, and (as we remembered) stoves and refrigerators are *expensive*! We had heard about a used appliance store, but when we got there, it was only new stuff. So we hit craigslist and the papers. And we adjusted our thinking.

We decided on a three-burner gas stove (just the top, no oven). These run about $30. Then we got the hose and regulator for a few dollars more at the ferreteria. (We asked 3 or 4 people where one was close to where we were; they all pointed us toward the same area, but we were blind and couldn't find it. We knew where another one was, and went to it instead. Later, we finally found the other one...) Then we had to arrange for gas (you know, so we can cook with gas!). The supermarket is where many people buy the gas (c9,800) and cilindro (c18,000). But we needed to find a way to get it delivered up our stairs. So we looked around some, and asked around some. We got two good leads - one that delivers to a restaurant (c9,000 for gas, and c18,000 deposit for the can), and one that delivers to various people in the neighborhood (c8,500 for gas, c9,000 deposit for the can - used, but usable). In either case, the deposit could be turned into a purchase. Rick arranged for the latter, and they met him at the apartment in less than 20 minutes! They even connected the hose, regulator, and stove! Now we just have to call them when the gas runs out, and they exchange it for us - nice!

We were looking for a fridge - thinking very small, but hoping for somewhat larger. We heard of one from a friend that might be for sale, and found another posted on craigslist. But then another friend offered to *lend* us one! Wow! We found a mover, and brought it home ($30). And it FIT! The next morning, two days shy of a week in our new home, we made breakfast! Ahhhh.

A bit later, we finally decided on bedframes - we got two twin metal tube frames (green), had them delivered, and then we set them up. Finally we're off the floor! We're using our big suitcases as night stands, one of the totes as an end table, and the smaller suitcases as temporary kitchen shelves. The table-top stove is outside the kitchen door, set up on the laundry sink. Pretty soon, we need to get shelves in the kitchen - we're thinking of the college answer of cement blocks and boards...

One thing that caught me off guard - everything is done with cash. I haven't had to worry about carrying the right amount of cash in so long - at the end of it all, I definitely knew the phrase in Spanish for "I'm not sure if I have enough money with me - can I get subtotals please?"

I can't imagine trying to do this without friends who have been through it all themselves. One knew of and contacted several people for us for moving, for deliveries, for housing. One knew of the best place to get furniture and supplies. Several had kept items for us from previous trips and brought them back to us when we moved. Several lent us items for the duration. All had excellent suggestions for so many things. And all of them kept us SANE! THANK YOU!!!

No comments: