Monday, December 3, 2012

My Peace Corps Palace...continued...

More from my Peace Corps Palace...

The living room is adorned with an ornate chandelier, sculptured and embossed (but very aged) wall and ceiling paper, and thanks to good friend and neighbor Gulnaz is now home to some of her spare furniture...

 View from living room into the spare bedroom

 Views of the living room, following the addition of some furniture and personal decorating touches (family photos, scenes from Washington, Oregon, and California, maps of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus region, and  sports posters)--Thanks to AzETA teachers for tables, chairs, kitchen and bath supplies. <3

 My only source of heat--small red space heater on the floor near the far, so good

The guest bedroom *before*:
Guest bedroom *after*, complete with some wardrobe clothes hangers attached by twine to the curtain rod:
 View from guest bedroom into living room:

 My bedroom *before*:

And my bedroom *after.*
My old iron framed, bed-roll-for-a-mattress bed--cost 10 Manat, used, is draped with the Peace Corps furnished mosquito netting (there are some malaria-carrying mosquitoes in some parts of Azerbaijan, though not necessarily where I live; nonetheless, the mosquitoes we have are plenty pesky--and despite the time of year, they are still here!)  The apartment was totally unfurnished when I moved in, and typical of housing construction here, no rooms have any closets--people buy free-standing wardrobe closets.  Not being able to afford that on PC budget, I fashioned my own wardrobe closet, by hanging looped twine from the curtain rod, then bought some hangers, and now hang my clothes in staggered fashion:

 In lieu of a *real* closet, I hang my clothes on hangers, suspended with twine from the curtain rod.  For winter, I covered the windows with some plastic:

 A PCV leaving service gave me a chest of drawers with only two functional drawers; I made a bookcase of sorts out of the front panels of the two broken drawers, held up with boxes from the USPS, thanks to the care packages I get from home.  I have been inspired by how resourceful most Azerbaijanis are--everything possible is repaired and reused.  And my mom and dad, survivors of the Great Depression, would be proud, I think--they, too, were very resourceful, and taught me to use and re-use long before recycling was a commonplace concept.
 The front pieces of broken drawers serve as book shelves and dressing table...small hand mirror serves as my wall mirror

View from entry hallway into my bedroom:

 View from entry door into apartment hallway and beyond into living slippers await guests; as is common here, one removes shoes and puts on slippers when entering someone's home:

View to entry door of apartment and my bedroom to the left.  The bedroom door at one time must have had a glass panel in it, like the door leading into the living room.  But when I moved in, there was no glass panel in the door, so I bought an Azerbaijani flag to cover the opening:

Hallway leading past bathroom on left into kitchen in background:

Scenes around the neighborhood:

Other Peace Corps housing options in Azerbaijan:
Some typical "Khrushchev Housing" in Sumgayit, Azerbaijan...typical Soviet-era mass housing complexes, minimal amenities, with fluctuating utilities--i.e. water only every other day or for a few hours per day. 

Typical "yard house" in small town :
Yard houses have bath and squat toilets in a separate structure in the yard
Yard toilet:

Villages and small towns typically have roads with brick walls, behind which are the "yard houses"; the elevated pipelines are for gas:
Small "yard house":
Built into the wall in the corner of the yard is the toilet:
 Spotless and well-maintained yard toilet:

"Yard" houses also commonly have separate bathhouses for "bucket" bathing or showering (hamam); room in back in this photo can be heated and buckets of hot water can be used for bathing, or some hamam have showers; sink in foreground is fed by water from a tin reservoir, mounted to the wall above the sink; it is filled from a hose in the yard, the only source of running water:

"Yard" houses are often heated by gas or wood-burning stoves called a peç:

Some schools, such as this one in a suburb of Baku, also have yard lavatories for the students and teachers (two small structures to the left of school building); no running water in the actual school building:

 School yard lavatory

1 comment:

  1. Much respect. Your living digs look pretty good compared to where I lived. No idea how I came across your page, was looking up giant fake diamond rings. Hah! I even wrote an article on blood diamonds during my time in the Peace Corps. Keep up the good work.
    - Rob O.
    RPCV Dominican Republic 2003-2005