Shortly after 5 a.m., the clouds seem higher than they are, and more dispersed. All orange-bellied with neon-bright underscores. I steal peeks of it through the big bedroom picture window and jump back under the covers to try to sleep some more, but it’s useless. Instead I squeeze some sunniness into a cup and drink fresh grapefruit-orange juice for a pre-breakfast snack.

We have been busy getting the house in order. Making it livable. Serkan had found this furnished place for us to live before I arrived. Of course, when we returned to Natales from Ushuaia about three weeks ago, I was excited to see our new home. It is by far the best place I’ve lived in Puerto Natales. But that first night my nerves were on edge and I actually cried to see the condition of our new place—which if you compare it to other houses here, it really wasn’t bad at all. We arrived here around midnight after 15 or so hours on a bus with a long snowy delay at the Chilean-Argentine border because of Chilean government workers being on strike (again). We hadn’t eaten for the last 10 hours, so we were pretty much starved and exhausted.

So I lacked imagination that first night, while Serkan with his infinite patience, comforted me. I’m sure being back in the super comfort of the U.S. didn’t help me feel less overwhelmed about all the work this place would need. But we woke up the next morning, ready to tackle house work. Sanding, painting, scrubbing, spraying insect killer, unpacking boxes and bags. It’s been an ongoing project, but it finally feels like home. No more salmon pink walls in the bedroom or diarrhea yellow in the bathroom. No more horrifying lace curtains stuffed with earwig eggs and exoskeletons.

I’ve been pretty obsessed with insect prevention. When we first arrived, hundreds of Patagonian pill bugs would appear inside the tub just about every morning. And elsewhere of course, but not in such huge quantities. Luckily, these insects don’t creep me out that much. But getting rid of them and vacuuming up their dried-out shells was a daily affair for a while. Their colonies have dwindled though we have not obliterated them. I’ve vacuumed and cleaned places in this house that haven’t been cleaned in years, if ever. I’ve scrubbed with bleach and worn through several sponges and gloves and practically erased my own fingerprints.

All this in preparation for the tijeretas (earwigs) that are sure to arrive around February. These silly little bugs have me in a panic. I have nightmares about them, even though I’ve only seen one live one since we got here. When they come, they get into everything. They show in the food containers, in the teapots, in the mate bombilla, in the washing machine, sometimes even in the bed. When sipping mate during a major tijereta infestation, the critters get sucked up through the metal straw, and suddenly a skinny wiggly thing is crawling on your tongue. Thank goodness this hasn’t happened to me yet! But, yes, I am mildly obsessed. They’re not here yet, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure they don’t come. Now that the inside is clean, we have a pretty big yard to tend to. Some friends bought a little black lamb, an organic lawnmower, so we’re hoping to fatten him up for a few weeks. (And, no, this lamb is not going to be eaten for Christmas dinner.)

It may sound weird to have to do all this to a place that we are only renting for probably less than a year. But that’s how the houses are here. We are really lucky to have found a well-furnished house with heaters in every room. Some places you rent here might not even come with a kitchen sink. The fridge, stove, kitchen and bathroom sinks are still considered furniture, something that renters supply themselves. That said, I haven’t seen a rental that didn’t come with at least one heater. And it’s cold enough here to live without a fridge. I hope it doesn't sound like I’m complaining too much, because really I just want to give some context.

After all the poison, paint and love we’ve put into this place, it truly feels home. It’s our little nest and I love it. I have a sturdy writing desk where I’ve started to work in the mornings. I rough sanded it to get rid of the pink paint splats and to give it a rustic look, filled it with family and travel photos, and topped it all with a square of glass.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails