Dual Entry #7

"Changes Around The House"

Life continues to be interesting in Cantel.  We’re feeling like our little room is now “home”.  We’re excited to walk through the door after a long day.  We’re even to the point now that we sometimes forget how different our living conditions are here when compared to our life back in Texas.  Luckily, anytime anyone from the U.S. stops by for a visit, we are reminded of the contrasts.

Our Humble Abode

The Infamous "Bucket"

For example, yesterday, a mission group from Ohio made a surprise visit to our house.  We weren’t there but Martín let them into our room so they could see how we live.  Thankfully we had just straightened up the place and swept.  I was feeling quite relieved UNTIL I remembered.  We didn’t empty the “pee bucket” from the night before because we were being lazy.  Besides, we are used to seeing a clear plastic (yes clear plastic) bucket of pee by our armoire.  The best part is that it’s the FIRST thing you see when you enter the room.  As much as we would like to tell them we were just storing leftover apple juice, I don’t imagine we’ll be invited to Ohio anytime soon. 

Other than that, there have been a few changes in the last few months.  Our family has worked wonders and made several improvements to the property.  So, in case we haven’t made it known to everyone, we now have a new bathroom setup.  However, it’s a little different than you are probably used to.

We now have a real-life, flushing toilet enclosed in four cinder block walls and a tin roof.  It’s great,  but you still have to walk 50 feet outside, over rocky terrain to get to it.  This has helped us realize that the real value of indoor plumbing is the “indoor” part.   A flushing toilet doesn’t excite me unless I can get to it without putting on a coat and hiking boots.  To make things even more interesting, the room doesn’t have a door on it.  It has a sort of “open air” feel to it.  The other day, I was sitting on the pot, doing my thing when Marlon walks by and says “Hi Gabby” and keeps on walking.  Too funny.  Still, it flushes, and it has a roof, so we can’ really complain.

Scotty Potty  

We also have a shower, right next to the new toilet stall.  It is a concrete room with a shower head that is supposed to heat the water before it falls on your head.  Unfortunately, the water pressure isn’t high enough to activate the heater, and the electricity isn’t strong enough to get it hot, even if the water is flowing well.  But, as always there is a silver lining.  Even though we still have to go outside and heat up our pot of water with burning wood and trash, we now get to bathe inside this new little room naked!  Let me tell you, bathing naked is underrated.  It is so much better than trying to do it in a bathing suit.  They should really be called swimming suits because, bathing – no sirve (it doesn’t work).  So now we carry our bucket of hot water into the room with a bucket of cold and mix it and douse ourselves.  The little shower room is much warmer than standing outside.  We love it.  

Bathing Naked Is Underrated

Gabby In The Shower Room

The sink is outside of the toilet room.  It’s a nice porcelain maroon sink (everything is colored here, even toilets and sinks).  Unfortunately it was built on a foundation that is well above ground level so when I go to brush my teeth, I feel five all over again.  Unable to reach the sink, wondering when this will ever be possible.  And this is with a cinder block to stand on.  Ah, the ingenuity one finds when you have to.  

But, the new bathroom is not the only thing interesting around the house.  The seasons have changed.  The apple trees on our property are barren, and we are nearing the end of the very dry season.  There hasn’t been any measurable rain for months.  This is normal here.  The problem is that the tall grass surrounding our house is like a tinder box.  With the strong mountain sun, the chances of brush fires are high.  Add to that the neighborhood kids who think it’s funny to light a match and throw it into your bushes, and you have a tough situation.  

"Am I Shrinking?"

We came home yesterday to find Francisco and Eduardo taking precautions.  Even two-year old Josesito was tasked with putting out some burning embers!  But don't call DHS!  This is normal here.  Apparently, around the first of March every year, they burn every square inch of their property (a couple of acres, I imagine).  Since my only experience with fire usually involves a Weber grill and some marinated chicken breasts, I was intimidated by the “semi-controlled burning” of the brush.  Still, we all grabbed tree branches, threw a couple of matches, and watched the burning until something looked scary.  At which time, someone would run to the flames and beat them into submission.  Secretly, I really enjoyed this job.  Gabby tells me that if we tried this on our Yard-Of-The-Month in Austin, we would quickly be thrown in the slammer.  Still, it was a lot of fun.  I’ll let you know when my eyebrows grow back.

Gabby Protecting Jose

A Big Smokey Mess

The Boys Overlooking Their Handiwork

Josesito At The Ready

And, for an afternoon, our house was turned into a barber shop.  Twenty years ago, Martin went to some barber classes at a local school because his father-in-law thought it would be a good career.  Well, Martin had other plans, but he kept his skills intact, and cuts the boys' hair whenever he gets the chance.

Scott mentioned how he needed a haircut, too.  Luckily, Gabby is a quick study.  She happily grabbed the shears and tore into Scott's auburn-colored locks.  The finished product is a pretty darn good haircut.  Gabby sacrificed a finger in the process, but is happy with the results.  Maybe a new career is waiting for her when she gets home!


Martin... With Twenty Years Of Experience

Gabby... Rookie Of The Year

Well, that’s about it for now.  Stay tuned for more.  We don’t have much time left here, but it’s sure to be full of interesting experiences.