Today, I discovered Central American rental websites. It’s house porn, with adorable ESL moments. I found a great place in Leon, Nicaragua with “walking closets.” I can’t stop giggling at the image of waking up and wondering where my closet has wandered off to.
But I can tell this is going to be a problem. It’s the blessing and the curse of the internet. In these modern times, I can surf around and see all these houses, completely out of context, and commit to a year without having seen that creepy neighbor or smelled that musty odor. I know that’s the wrong answer, that we need to see the place and explore neighborhoods and negotiate prices, but because that fountain looks so sweet — and look how close it is to the central park! — I’m tempted to commit.
My fear is that I will panic and sign up for the first reasonable place we see. When we arrived in Greece on the island of Naxos, we stayed — short-term — in a funky little studio in the Chora, the old section of town that was built with the express intent to foil sea-borne invaders, so no street is straight nor has a name, but instead — from the sky — must appear as a plate of spaghetti with steep paths intersecting at odd angles, then intersecting again 20 steps later. It was perfect. It was exactly what we needed, except too small and the hot water was fully dependent on the sun being out.
So we put ourselves in the capable hands of Dmitri (who was actually Syrian and, in hindsight, some sort of modern-day indentured servant) at the Naxos Tourist Information Office and immediately found ourselves in possession of a sort-of-three-bedroom in the new part of town with a patio that overlooked a scooter-choked street and a fish market full of oozy-looking octopus. I think it was the second place we saw, but I was so desperate to put down roots and start our Greek life that we grabbed at it and I spent the rest of the nine months we had possession of the apartment regretting our hasty decision, most especially when we found the bedbugs, and when winter came and the wind howled off the Black Sea and directly under every door frame and into the unheated space so we were reduced to huddling in one small room, baking cookies and boiling tea or soup to keep warm. Then I remember having cocktails on the roof, with a perfect view of the sunset over Paros.
But it had none of the charm I had pictured in my head when I imagined living in Greece for a year, so I need to stay strong in my resolve to wait and find the right place on this trip. Regardless of the temptation of walking closets.