When we moved here four years ago, we didn’t speak the local language. We couldn’t say hello. Good morning. Where’s the bathroom? Nothing. And so it’s nothing short of a miracle that we found a place to live.
Jeff’s cousin had set us up with a real estate agent and he went around with us for a day looking at prospective apartments. It was exhausting as you can image (a lot of jet lag!), but we did find one apartment we were semi-interested in. After that day, some friends went with us to look at different apartment complexes. We kept coming back to this one complex where that apartment was – near our school, a nice square, lots of small stores – to check out other available apartments.
One day, Jeff and I wandered in to this very small real estate office at the front of the complex and tried to ask them if they had any apartments available for rent. At this point (like day 7), all we could say was “do you have?”. Amazingly enough, this real estate company had floor plans. (To this day, I have never seen another real estate company with floor plans.) So we looked through the book, found a floor plan with 3 bedrooms, and said “Do you have or not have?”. The lady looked at her computer and said, “Have”.
Then, my husband proceeded to “ask” if the house had a Western toilet. He did this by play-acting (think Charades) that he was going into a bathroom, taking a shower (with noises for the water), and acting as though he was sitting on a toilet. He then said again, “Have or not have?”. The lady giggled and said, “Have.” At this point, Jeff put hand up to his face like he was making a phone call and the lady called the landlord.
When we first walked into the apartment, I loved it. It was pretty furnished, and with furniture I could live with. The kitchen had cabinets, which is fairly rare here. It was in a tall building, and the view of the mountains was beautiful. And it wasn’t cluttered. (I hadn’t had time to look through the drawers yet.)
There were a few things, of course, that we asked the landlord if he would remove. The ginormous fish tank in the living room was the first to go and the twin bed in the second bedroom was next. He agreed to everything and after a little negotiation from another friend, came down on the price a little. We signed that week and moved in the next.
It’s hard to believe that was four years ago. This place has changed a lot since then – we’ve bought some new furniture, recovered the couches, turned the guest room into Macy’s room, and moved things around a time or two. But a lot is the same – the purple polka-dotted curtains that I never loved but was too lazy to replace, the blue (yes, blue) air-conditioner in the living room, and the kitchen with all its cabinets. I have thanked God a lot for helping us find this place and helping us turn it into our home.
Good thing I had a husband who was willing to act out “Western toilet”. Without that, we may never have found this apartment.