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Playing house

October 13, 2010

It’s our third night in the apartment, and things are finally starting to look decent. I’m almost starting to forget what it looked like Sunday when we showed up with all of our bags.

Moving into an apartment has reminded me how differently things work here than they do back home (or at least any experiences I’ve had back home.) Most landlords here want everything in cash and in US dollars. They don’t care that you have no privacy in the teller line at the bank. That you’re standing elbow to elbow with the next guy asking if you can please have several thousand dollars, yes, US Dollars in cash, please. Or that the guy next to you is watching them put all those Benjamins on the bill counter, and then watching you put them into your purse, and walk out onto the sidewalk down the street. Yes, please do this every month. Plus, you have to pay a fee to withdraw dollars. And, you have to pay for the taxi to get to the main bank.

So we paid our dollars and asked if we could move in immediately. The landlord said he had a really busy weekend, but agreed that it would be okay and the place would be clean and ready.

Needless to say, it was a little frustrating when we showed up, in the rain, on Sunday and it looked like the last tenant had just packed his clothes and walked out. We started investigating and were more and more disappointed when one of the bathroom sinks wouldn’t drain, one of the toilet seats was completely separated from the toilet and the other was hanging by a thread, the other sink’s stopper wouldn’t move, the internet wasn’t hooked up, and the place was dirty.

When we had first looked at the apartment, we opened the refrigerator and were all blown away by the smell of dead rodent. The landlord said they had taken it apart but couldn’t find the source of the smell. So when we got here and couldn’t open the door without getting a headache and stinking up the whole place, we had to do something. I used my mini Swiss Army knife, and took everything apart that had screws. No rodent carcasses. Next step was to get it out of the apartment and onto the balcony. Thankfully, it’s a small frig (shorter, and probably lighter, than me,) so I leaned it on my back, Jonathan carried the rest of it, and we took it outside. All the drawers and shelves went into the shower.

Then it was Mission Cleaning Supplies. There’s a nice little grocery store in the downstairs of our building. We bought candles, cleaning rags, and a bottle of something that had a picture of a lemon on it and said cream. I hoped it would scrub. We also bought something with flowers that had a picture of a mop on it and a bottle of something simply because the named ended in –ox. It’s called Zonrox, and has a picture of a scrub brush, a white t-shirt, flowers, and a toilet on the back. Hopefully a cousin of Clorox.

Back upstairs, I started scrubbing the frig. It’s weird because it’s spotless inside, and looks brand new. We can only assume that at some point something rotted in there and the smell so thoroughly permeated the plastic that it still smells like a dead rat.

The whole time I was scrubbing, Jonathan was in the kitchen sorting through and washing all the random dishes that the previous tenant had left. I suppose dishes are part of living in a furnished apartment, but there was one plate, a few miss-matched pieces of silverware, and a whole lot of logo glasses. There were some chopsticks, a cutting board, pots and knives that were worthy of keeping. Everything was covered in a layer of dust and grease.

Since we had heard from some of our colleagues that cleaning doesn’t include dusting or deep cleaning, we did that too. I’m not sure how long this apartment was unoccupied, but even the backs of the dining room chairs were dusty. There was nothing particularly gross about the place. It just looked like someone had lived in it that didn’t really care much about cleanliness. One of the things we really like about this place is that it has a lot of built in storage. But, every single shelf, drawer, and cabinet had to be wiped down before you could put anything in it.

All the while we are scrubbing, sorting, and trashing, the washer and dryer were going. We’ve been living out of bags for over a month, and only done laundry once, so the washer ran for about ten hours. Having a dryer here is like winning the lottery (though I suppose if you won the lottery you could pay someone else to dry your clothes.) Most places only have a washer, and while it’s very easy and cheap to get someone else to do your laundry, I love that I can do my own, whenever I want, and have it fresh from the dryer afterwards. I will still hang dry stuff, but in a climate like this, I could have hung something out Sunday and it would still be wet.

After we had scrubbed until we could scrub no more, we went back down to the mini mart and bought stuff for dinner. I haven’t cooked in over a month and I miss it. It’s hard to know what to buy when you’re starting from nothing and don’t have a refrigerator. We ended up with curly pasta with bolognese sauce (because it was in a jar and we don’t have a can opener) and green beans sautéed with garlic like my Mama makes.

It was good, and I felt extremely happy; sitting with my husband in our first real home, eating a good meal that I made, watching the rain pour down over Saigon.

This isn’t even half the adventure of the last few days, but it’s late so the snail dinner, second trip to the Metro, attempt at finding any normal household utensils, and seven hour towel search will have to wait.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Charity permalink
    October 15, 2010 18:50

    Did you eventually get the smell out of the fridge???

    • October 16, 2010 04:09

      It’s faded a lot. I think it will go away eventually. I might give it another rub down with some Zonrox (or whatever they call it) next week if it isn’t all better.

  2. Israel Holby permalink
    October 17, 2010 10:47

    Can you take the cover off the evaporator, the tubes the cool off the inside and clean it out? There is, by design, so much surface area in there that could take forever to un-stink.

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