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   March 23, 2003
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Hello Family and Friends,

It's been over four weeks now since our last update. That must mean that we are getting used to this new country and maybe even a little settled. So it is finally time for the presentation of our house!

Our house is starting to look like a real house, little by little. Especially Nathan is good in finding those little things that make a house feel like a home. 

But to back up a little bit: our house is an apartment above our landlord's garage. We have a fairly big living/dining room, a great kitchen and a bedroom. And not to forget: a bathroom with real hot water. Not a plastic unit taped to the water pipe, but a real water heater downstairs.

So let's start with our living room. We are renting a furnished apartment, which means here in Antigua that a stove and fridge are provided. Anything more than that is a bonus. Our living room came furnished with a white plastic table, with four green plastic chairs, and in the corner an antique TV, featuring "blackstripe electronic tuning", a capacity of a whole mere 20 channels and no remote, but a cable hookup. Interesting combination. We moved that TV to our bedroom, and moved Mike's TV to the living room. We also bought a nice maroon local made table cloth to hide the white plastic table somewhat, and put up the river tapestry right next to it. And for our Dallas fans: yes, it is hiding another whiteboard. When we're eating breakfast now, we feel like we can dive right into the Edisto for our early morning dive.
To the right of Nathan and on the other picture you can see our fire place. That is a great thing, especially when the rainy season will start. It is also the only heating device our house has. Most houses here have no heating or AC, just a fireplace.
Also, if you look closely at the pictures, you can see a trace of a guitar between Nathan, the chair and the table. Thanks, Jason! Our landlord promised him some how-to-play-guitar books, so in no time he should be a local star!
The picture right below it shows my computer desk on which I am typing this update now.

  

The kitchen is a whole different story. It is extremely well equipped, the only thing missing to American standards is a microwave and a dishwasher, and you learn to live without those really quickly. We have a great gas stove and oven, that we cannot turn down, so in the beginning everything we cooked burnt on it. We are getting better at it now, I just finished my second batch of rice that did not burn. 
Also, in the second picture above, in the left lower corner, you can just see our water bottle. Water from the tap is not drinkable, so we have the big water bottles to provide us with drinking and cooking water. The water jug is on a kind of teeter-totter, so you just have to pull the bottle down a little bit to get the water out.
As you can tell, we have no cupboards, but just a big white wall. (That big white wall extends thru our entire house.) The only storage space we have is underneath the countertops, which have no doors or closure. We tried to change that a little bit by hanging those little red covers you see behind me. We are lucky enough to have a landlady who has a sewing machine, that I could borrow. And believe it or not, I am also the first one to use the machine in its life! Sylvia does not know how to use it, and she was extremely happy somebody finally got to use it! Good for me. It is still standing here in the storage space it created (it made the red curtains you see in this picture and also the green ones that you can see in the previous picture), waiting for it's next project. The other picture below features our fruit and veggie bowl. Every Thursday morning we go to the market and buy the fruits and veggies for the week. It is absolutely incredible how cheap those are, and how good too! The two of us easily can eat all these veggies in one week.

We also just hung some plants in our bathroom and kitchen, and Nathan made some shelves for some more storage room underneath our kitchen "dinette" countertop, hidden by the earlier described curtains. Banhi, if you would know how many times Nathan has used your drill... 

 

OK, on to the bathroom. As said before, we have a real bath room, with the highlight of a real hot water tab in our shower. We fight with it a lot, because the water pump that pumps the water up has seen better days. So we shower in three minute rallies. Every three minutes we have to turn the water off, and turn it back on, make sure we don't burn ourselves, and continue our shower. And some of you will sure recognize our towels and bathmat, they got shipped all the way from South Carolina to Dallas, on to Guatemala! We love them.

 

The last room that we haven't talked about is our dear bedroom. That means that we have to start with thanking one particular person. Thank you Bill! You saved our backs with that fabulous air mattress. We have a bed in the room, but it is relatively small, and very uncomfortable. So we have been sleeping on the air mattress for over two months now. And except for the facts that getting out of an air mattress bed is just not the same, sitting on the edge of an air mattress to put on your socks is mildly different, we love it. And our backs do too. 
The second picture is a picture from our bedroom to the living room. The order of rooms would be: first of course bedroom, then bath room, then kitchen and lastly living room. 

 

One of our latest additions to our apartment is a grill. It is outside, on the patio, and we use it quite often. It gives a nice challenge to Nathan, because the one-match-lighted-coals have not made it all the way to Guatemala, instead they use charcoal, as in burned wood. He loves it, however, because it gives him a valid reason to build a big fire... In the picture below the mean-looking pot is our grill, very typical for here. They work great, because you can stir the coals thru his eye, and the coals get oxygen thru his mouth. Just the smoke is something we have to work on...

The only thing that we still have to find a solution for is the non-existing couch (watching a movie from a plastic chair is just not the same). We just downloaded some futon plans from the internet, and will present them to several carpenter's around to see if it is possible to have one built.

The bed will hopefully not be an issue anymore soon, because we had our landlords over for dinner two nights ago. That was one thing we should have done a month earlier. When they saw our bare walls in our apartment, they offered us some paintings. When they saw the one nightstand being used as TV stand, they remembered they had a little table in a room they did not use anyway. And when they saw our air mattress, they realized that it was time for the promised bed to arrive soon. (They gave us a choice between a bed and couch, that decision was made easily!) By the way, our landlords are wonderful people. Just in case you wondered.
She is a pastry chef, and brought the best Guatemalan cheesecake we've ever had. The day after she brought us a big piece of chocolate cake (while we still had half a cheesecake in our fridge!). How can you not love her?

Things are going good in the clinic too. After all, that's why we came here. Last week we saw 11 new patients, and we are getting the word out more and more. Our best, and cheapest, way of advertising is by flyers. Believe it or not, it works best. But we still get most patients from referrals. 

One last thing I couldn't keep from y'all (thanks, Janelle!) is last Saturday's pictures. As most of you know, we adjust every other Saturday in a small town about 20 minutes from Antigua. We started talking to the people, telling them that chiropractic is for everybody, and especially for kids. This last Saturday turned into a kid's party! They love to get adjusted, and, maybe even more, to get some one on one attention. They also invented a new game over the last month: "let's play chiropractor!"

Well, this was one of our biggest and most requested updates yet. I hope you enjoy it, drop us a line how you are doing!

Lots of love from this wonderful country,

     Annette and Nathan.