Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Living simply

“What parts of the simplicity of life here will you take with you when you go back to the States?” my teammate Peter asked me the other day.

Peter is new to the work, the team, the community, and life in the campo (countryside), and therefore is still adjusting to many of the big lifestyle changes one must make in order to (happily) live here. During our time in the Peace Community, us gringos (originally a term referring to folks from the U.S. but around here used to refer to all foreigners) don’t have many of the things that we’re used to from what I tend call our “normal life” back in our home countries: we don’t have the luxury of a refrigerator, microwave, oven, dishwasher, washing machine, nor a clothes dryer. Our house (pictured at left) is made of wood slats with a corrugated tin roof, each room lit by a single naked bulb. Any groceries, household items, office supplies – anything we buy – we have to carry up the mountain.

Despite all the things we don’t have, we arguably have the best house in the village, and count on many comforts our neighbors don’t have: a seat on the toilet (that’s not to say that the flush system functions, however), a computer, two tanks to collect the water piped in from mountain rivers as opposed to just one tank in most houses (see photo at right of our clothes-washing sink and drinking water filter system), a back porch overlooking the garden, a gas cooking range (nearly everyone else cooks with firewood, though a few have electric ranges). Luxury is relative.