Well, I have good news to report – since my last post I actually tackled that bathroom cupboard! Oh yes I did! And, the bottom drawer right next to it that was needing some TLC. And you know what? It seriously took me about half an hour, including wiping everything down. Feels good to have it out of the way and not that little thing nagging me in the back of my mind whenever I’m looking for something to do.
It’s been a productive few days around here, actually. Yesterday Chris and I went to Port to do a few things, one of which was buying a new fridge. Sigh.
I sigh because we have had this ongoing fridge drama for about 4 months now. We have no shortage of fridges here. In fact, we have 3. One was given to us by friends who were renovating and selling their house. It was shipped in on a container back in 2007, and served us well for several years. It is old though, so it’s a power sucker. Let’s call this fridge A. Then we had fridge B. B was given to us by the US State Department when they were cleaning out one of their warehouses. A friend that worked there at the time knew that they would donate items from time to time to non-profits in the country and made sure we benefited from that. B replaced A when we got it because it was more power efficient. Fidge C was purchased for the second house on property when we had other people living in there. Ryan eats all his meals with us, so C sat unplugged for many months.
When our fridge drama started it was because B started losing power, and we started losing things like milk. A former employee who does refrigeration repairs came to fix it, we put it back in service, a few days later same problem. In the meantime, fridge C was moved up here to fill in. It was literally like musical fridges here for about 2 months. Seriously. To the point where we had a fridge pool on the white board on the fridge du jour to see how many days the repairs would last. To the point where we were almost paper, rock, scissoring to see who’s turn it was to move the working fridge in and swap over the contents. Remember, B was FREE. It was a GE side by side that was basically in new condition when we got it. Chris has a life philosophy that if you get something free, you use that thing until it DIES. I got so tired of the dance with the fridge that when it gave out on us again, and Chris wanted to try fixing it, again, I told him it was fine, but I wasn’t going to be part of the swap the food dance anymore. Finally before we left for vacation we moved A into our kitchen and decided it would stay there until we found a more permanent solution.
Like I said, A is a power monger. Every day Chris would complain that we were burning through more power, just from the fridge, and it was true. C, who is still part of this issue, was put into rotation in the house for a while, but being a top freezer, and not a tall fridge, us tall Rollings were frustrated with not being able to see in it. That, and it couldn’t keep up with the heat and everything we needed keep cold. It is now being used for a project that Chris has going. On Sunday afternoon I took a loaf of bread out of the freezer in A, and found that it was very cold, and frozen in the middle, but not super frozen like it should be. Other stuff was starting to turn on us too, so Chris and I knew it was time to bite the bullet. It was time to buy a new fridge. Was I happy? Oh yes. But, not because we were getting a brand new appliance, but rather because I was so done with the fridge dance that I was looking forward to plugging a fridge in knowing it would be there for a very, long time.
So, yesterday we bought a fridge. Appliances and furniture are crazy overpriced here, so going into it you already feel cranky. We went to one store and out of the two models we liked best they were either $1600 or $2000. Blech. The next store we went to had more variety, which was great. The one that I really liked best was a GE freezer on bottom (something we wanted just because of the way we used the fridge/freezer.) It was marked at just over $1400. Not horrible, and not that far off what we would pay back home for a good fridge. We looked around more and I finally asked the sales girl if there was any discount offered.
Let me stop right here to explain this cultural phenomenon in Haiti. It takes foreigners a while to learn this because we would hardly ever ask for a discount back home. But, here in Haiti, you are a fool if you’re shopping in a major store and don’t ask. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying groceries or hardware. Always ask for the discount. Typically it’s about 5%, but at one of the grocery stores I go to in St. Marc I always get 10%. I don’t know if that’s the norm, or if that’s a preferred customer thing, but I get 10%.
The sales girl got a big smile and said, “Yes, of course!” When I asked how much she said she was able to take 15% off, dropping the price to less than $1200. THAT, was doable. You see, while it seems like a large amount of money for the mission to spend on an appliance, we also have to factor in the generator fuel to run a less efficient fridge, and what that will add up to over the long term – hopefully ten years or more. If we have to run our generator for several hours per day to help the solar panels charge the batteries, it costs us about $500 US per month in fuel. The more power efficient an appliance is, the less money the mission pays over the long term. Also, there’s the cost of lost food, and peace of mind, and our time as we’ve been dealing with the broken fridges. We’ve probably lost over $100 in food in the last few months from fridges going bad.
We decided to take the fridge. It was a good model, US brand with a good reputation, and the price was on par with what we would pay back home. When it was time to do the sale she said that when she entered it in the computer they had actually raised the price to $1500, but she was going to give it to us at the price before she found that out, making the discount almost 20%. Win!
So, yesterday we got a new fridge. The funny thing was that while Chris was acting all blase in the store, when we got home I had to tell him to leave the room because he was buzzing around like a bee. This morning one of the first things he said to me was, “I got up this morning and the fridge wasn’t making a noise. It wasn’t running the fan, nothing! It’s so great!” :)
The fridge dance is now over.
Our generator that needed a new head gasket was also ready to be brought home yesterday, which made the bumpy trip in the red work truck even more profitable. The guys are hooking it back up today and we should be good to go.
Another point of productivity?
We’ve lived in this house for 4 years. We have next to nothing hung on our walls. Only a few decor things in the kitchen. I’m serious.
While we were home Chris said that it was time to get some pictures printed to actually fill some of the frames we had accumulated in Haiti for this purpose. Part of the reason it hadn’t happened is that the printer that can print photos is down in the other house, and the last time I tried to get it to do something it was crap. I need to spend the time fighting with it more. Boo.
Anyway, I got some great pictures of the kids printed, and when we got back I actually put them in frames. BUT, I had no nails to hang them. See, all our walls are concrete, and wood nails don’t work in concrete. They just bend. You need concrete nails. They have these little grooves on them that help break through the concrete without bending the nail. My problem was that I only had 3″ nails, which are a disaster to use for hanging pictures. Yesterday while we were at a hardware store I bought nails!
And then I came home and hung things on our walls!!!
As Ryan said, “It doesn’t look like a show home anymore.” As in, real people live here.
All in all, I would call it a productive few days.