If anyone would like to throw me a housewarming, I would gladly accept.
Here's what happened...
Reagan, Michelle and I headed into Jamhuri late Friday afternoon. Reagan had called me about this place an agent wanted to show me, but true to all agents, he wanted money for me to look at it. I decided against it, and instead, we headed over to our old apartment, and our favourite duka (shop). We parked in our same old spot. On top of the burnt trash pile and next to the random brick.
Laban runs this duka, (next to a pile of bricks that might be a building one day) and when Michelle and I lived here in 2009, we probably visited him every day for things like bread, butter, eggs, laundry soap, soda, vegetables, toilet paper, phone credit... anything we needed in a pinch, he had. Laban became a good friend, reliable and fun to talk to. And I was so happy when we rounded the corner in the car to see him sitting there by his shop.
He pretended not to be excited but explained later that he was really elated to see us but just didn't want to make a scene. Unlike Charity, our old neighbor who started yelling and jumping in the middle of the street when she saw us... which brought on a nice group of onlookers.
I asked Laban if he knew of any vacant houses in the area. He made a few phone calls and then we walked across the street to a one bedroom flat that was listed for 15,000 /- per month. It happened to be the same building some old friends used to live in before moving to the states.
The place was TINY. But not too tiny for the roach I saw on the wall. The sitting room was about the size of a walk in closet and the bedroom was no better off. The kitchen was just a sink and the bathroom was one of those, shower-head over top of the toilet type deals. I pretended not to hate it and thanked the care taker for letting us in to see it. After all... in this case, looking was free.
We went back to Laban's shop and I asked him if he knew of any 2 bedroom places that were large but cheap, a tricky combination. A few minutes later we were escorted by another care taker across the street to a building I didn't even know existed when we lived there a few years back.
This place was nice! the sitting room was big, enough for couches and a kitchen table. The two bedrooms were the biggest I've seen in an apartment. The kitchen was a good size and the washroom was the best layout.... Like we had in our old apartment with separate rooms for shower and toilet.
The only peculiar part of the tour was the first bedroom. The family hadn't moved out yet but were scheduled to leave at the end of the month. There was a girl in her 20's who answered the door looking as if we had just awoken her from hibernation and she sat in the living room while we walked around. I thought she was there alone so when the care taker opened the bedroom door and switched on the light, I didn't expect Michelle to come backing out exclaiming that someone was sleeping in there!
I nervously peeked my head around the corner to see two legs under a blanket, attached to the torso of an elderly woman sitting upright. We sloppily mumbled apologies in Swahili and quickly returned to the living room where the now fully awake girl was giggling about our little surprise. I jokingly scolded her for not warning us about the woman in the other room. And then wondered to myself, why was this woman sitting in the dark?
Long story, long.... I took a few minutes to think about my options and then came up with a deposit for the apartment. I didn't want to jump into it but I also didn't want to take too long and have someone grab it out from under me because it really was the best place I've seen in my price range.
As soon as the old lady and her mischievous little friend move out, the place will be painted, repairs made and cleaning done. I will get my keys on July 1.
Oh and did I mention all the doors and cupboards are painted a lovely shade of pastel pink? I'll be changing that.