In other news, the building of homes continues. Rachel showed a nice collection of photos regarding the onsite construction of our four homes. It's wonderfully fascinating. But there is another element to this that I would describe as not-as-wonderfully-fascinating: The purchasing of materials.
Here is a picture of a typical shop in the Quartier Asiatique, or the "Asian quarter" of the capital city, your district for all of your construction needs (and I do mean needs, as opposed to wants).
This is it. The whole shop. Stuff plastered on every surface. You decide you want to buy something, and the proprietor sends a troop of guys to an off-site warehouse who return carrying your purchase, and then you haggle a bit over the tip. Random thoughts concerning the construction materials purchasing process in Burundi:
- One sink fixture is about $8. This other one is $120. Really? How am I supposed to know the difference? Warning: there is a whole level of manufactured junk that never gets imported to the West, and it is here for the purchasing. I bought 3 door handles/locks for our house. 2 didn't work right out of the box. Which brings me to point #2:
- If you have a trustworthy friend who can buy things for you, it is gold. We are very thankful for our friend who does this for us, though there are still some things (tiles, for example) that are better to purchase yourself.
- These items sometimes have prices on the item, usually in permanent marker, literally ON the item. But usually not. So you ask the guy, and he gives you a price. Really? You have hundreds of prices in your head at any given time? You're making this up, aren't you?
- "Available" can be a nebulous term. We bought our tiles after asking a paint place what was available from their book. "You can sell us any of these colors? Really? Any of them? OK, we'll take that one, and purchase our tile accordingly." Then it wasn't available. Anywhere. In the country. "Well, that color is close to this other color." No it's not. Which brings us to:
- There is not another color between Cream and White. Why would you even ask?
- Lastly, I have no idea what I'm doing. A toilet here, a light fixture there, bathroom wall tiles here, a shower head there. We'll see where all this leads.
Think of us the next time you run down the street to Home Depot to grab a few things...