After three wonderful weeks in New York, Arnon and I are settling into our new apartment in Haifa and setting things up. So far, it has been an adventure of mishaps and crazy situations. The first day, when I was moving things from the car, I saw this curlyheaded guy watching me through his window. Then, as I was hauling a heavy box, he popped his head from the window and yelled, "Bruchim habaim!" --welcome-- so loudly I almost dropped my load and disappeared as quickly as he had come.
I went through the gate and wound myself into the building and passed his apartment just as the door swung open. "Hello, neighbor, when did you move in?" a second guy asked. Arnon stepped out just as the man opened the door wider to reveal his full glory. Teetering beside us was a disheveled, scrappy-haired man with at least five face piercings, two in his chin, two in his nose, and one in his brow, a stained, white wifebeater crumpled above his protruding, jiggling belly, and bare legs beneath white, equally stained underwear. We're not exactly sure what the roommate situation entails and are guessing that the curly-haired one is no older than 24 and the underwear man is in his mid-thirties. They insisted we "tour" their ashtray-smelling apartment, which is three times bigger than ours, full of broken, dirty things, and hardly more furniture than their hookah, cigarette butts, and sound system. Above us are apartments of old people, Russians, people with loud crying children, and religious folks. That pretty much summarizes the neighborhood we have chosen. It is sure to be an interesting year... :)
We chose this exact location because we are trying to be accepted into a new community of young academics who if chosen, will be compensated with a large sum of money towards rent each month in turn for some hours of volunteer work in order to revitalize the area. If we're accepted, we'll have a new group of fascinating, passionate people to meet, only $125 a month in rent between the two of us, and the opportunity to do something good for others. If we're not chosen then we'll be kind of bummed that we had to limit ourselves to certain streets with old, broken-down apartments such as ours.
Moving into apartment also has revealed a myriad of "exciting" revalations. Things are not like in America, to say the least. Apartments don't neccessarily come with ovens, regridgerators, much less with an air conditioner or washing machine. We have some of those things ourselves but none of them exactly work in the apartment. In addition, there are hardly any electrical outlets, wavy walls that we only noticed when trying to hang things (yes, I said wavy), and strange knicknacks to be found in old furniture. When we hang things they keep falling, when we go to buy things we can't find them, and nothing fits exactly in the space that we have.
At the moment we have two unplugged ovens and no range, two tvs, a sound system, and speakers that are from the 80's, a wall that is so dusty that the shelves keep falling from their reinforced brackets (hopefully Arnon has fixed that situation), our washing machine is temporarily in the kitchen and waiting to be moved to the balcony however we have no electricity there to hook it up at the moment, we had to hang our shower curtain from a string, and we have cleaned hundreds of cobwebs, calcified bugshells and animal dung, and spent days organizing and trying to set everything up.
It does have its charms though-- there are two wonderful balconies, one that we plan to make a cozy sitting area with scented, climbing vines, flowers, cooking herbs, lanterns, and such; in our bedroom one whole wall is covered from floor to ceiling with storage. There are fun shelves, nooks, drawers, and ingenious hanging devices the like that only existed years ago, and in the kitchen is an old small window with a small ledge that peeps out to the hallway from the days when milk was delivered from home to home. And despite the lack of electrical outlets, a nonstop howling dog on one side and sounds of children and groups of prayer on the other side, our strange mishmosh of weird circa-70's furniture, and lack of ways to cook, we are very happy to be together. Now if we could just avoid the next disaster, we will be on our way to domestic bliss...
Our Work In Progress
I wish we had had the forethought to take before and after pictures, but just believe me when I say that these pictures represent a gigantic improvement:
|Putting up the shelves, take two|
|Three pieces of fabric later, we have a new couch!|
|A peek at the balcony|
|Our bathroom- notice the googly-eyed toilet paper holder|
|The biggest work in progress, the kitchen|
|Here we are so far!|