Saturday, May 14, 2011


I'm sitting in my room right now waiting for the reception desk to call me to take my room upgrade - my reward for staying the hotel more than 30 nights. (Has it really been 30 nights already? That's a lot of nights for a hotel room!)

While waiting I was watching the sunset over the Nile since, in order to get the upgrade I need to surrender my Nile view. I'm curious as to whether it will be worth it; a Nile sunset is a worthy commodity.

And while watching the Nile sunset I got to thinking about homes I've lived in. I have lived in 8 countries in the last 3 years, and have had at least one home in each country - usually more than one. Believe it or not, I am a nester. It's important for me to feel like my physical space is my own, a place to live, with a special touch. So each one of these dozens of homes has been special to me. I thought I'd try listing one special thing about each home here. We'll see how far back in time I can go! (Moving backwards in time)

1- Current room in the Kempinski - Nile view, very comfy bed!
2- "The palace", our nickname for the guesthouse in Kht where we waited out our two months of exile. More living rooms than bedrooms, so I made one of them into my room. My room also therefore became movie room, and I loved hosting the other girls for episodes of Glee. The highlight of the house, however, was the most spacious, well-equipped and happy kitchen EVER.
3- My room in the office guesthouse in Kht. I stayed there three separate times but always got the same room. It had two very uncomfortable beds and I had no privacy since it was in the office building. But spacious room.
4- Isaac's old room in the Dar. It had a lovely aura around it, was spacious and breezy when the windows were open. I loved that room and looked forward to making it my home for at least a year (I lived there less than one month, as it turns out). When I moved in, I asked the cleaning lady to clean but she didn't do a very good job because I re-cleaned and removed about 1639 pieces of mouse turdy from behind the desk and closet. Ewww.
5- The guestroom in GH4 in the Dar. This had a door straight to the great outdoors. Highlights were the entire set of new furniture they put in for me, the sandbags they gave me to protect against critters entering through the gap under door, and bazillions of grasshoppers. And learning that all my housemates could hear EVERYTHING that went on in that room.
6- The most amazing house ever in Haiti. Where to start? Well, it all starts and ends with the view over Port au Prince. I truly love that house, and hope that P&M are remembering to enjoy it in my absence.
7- GH81 in Port au Prince. This was also a happy place, where much cooking ensued. I had lovely housemates, other short-termers. And we had a mouse, a shameless bugger who ran around the ground floor all the time and once, when I spilled some condensed milk, licked it all up while I waited, ashamed, in the other room for him to stop. Again I say, Ewww.
8- The nicest room in our humble hotel-turned-office in the little village of Lubuk Basung, Agam, West Sumatra, Indonesia. I got this room because in the second-nicest room, where I was originally placed, I didn't feel entirely safe. At 5 in the morning men would chat outside my window and one morning I really think someone tried to come in to my room. I told my boss and he chivalrously offered to switch. This room had its scare of interesting experiences, too, mostly critter-related! Like here, and here.
9- My precious pink house in Dili, Timor Leste. I have such a tender spot in my heart for this house, and I still mourn everything that went wrong in it, and because of it. I miss my housemates, I crave for a happy reunion with my landlord's family, and I want a second chance at making that into a place of joy. Much joy was had there, to be sure, but just as much pain as well.
10- "Casa Minha", my temporary abode in Timor Leste before moving into my fab house. It was attached to one of only two nightclubs in town, and this one was known for its heavy fighting, specifically between Portuguese GNR, UNMIT and Timorese Police. Yeah, the country still has a few issues to sort out.
11- Der Mar Elias, the monastery where I lived two summers in a row leading the Damascus Summer programme. It's not actually a monastery; it's a hostel. But calling it a monastery makes it a safe places for families to send their daughters to live in while they study. I think my most distinct memories from there were when I cried. Specifically, once when my feelings were very badly hurt, and again when I learned my grandmother had left this earth.
12- My flat in Kosovo, next to Jazz Bar 101... ok, I don't remember the number of the Jazz bar, but that's ok, it's the only one in Pristina and it's really a nightclub not a jazz bar. I loved living next to it, even if it did make my flat noisy at all hours of the night.
13- My dear friend S's house in Nicosia, Cyprus. It was a five minute walk from the Cypriot Green Line dividing North (Turkish) from South (Greek) Cyprus. Her building had men who regularly summoned prostitutes, and in her flat we cooked cooked cooked! I learned to bake bread there.
14- A teeny tiny hotel room in Amman, Jordan, where the NGO I worked for put me up. That room will always be special to me, because it's where I recovered from eye surgery. Three days of not being able to handle any light at all, followed by perfect vision! It's also where I interviewed at midnight (due to the time difference) for my current job.
15- The boss's house in Amman, Jordan, where I stayed until he returned and then they moved me to the hotel. This was a beautiful place of rest, with trees and flowers and perfect weather - and while staying there, I made myself iced coffee every day. Yummy!

Wow, I think I did it. Only 15 homes. That takes me back to summer of 2008. All of these places were and are precious to me. People keep telling me that one day I will wake up and realise that I've been living in the same place for ten years. I think that'd be nice, but don't have enough faith in myself to make it happen. I'm grateful for the gift of making each place home, though.


happygirl said...

So many homes and so many memories. I loved this walk down your memories lane of homes and travels. Good luck with your upgrade.

Craig said...

Kati, so many blessings, seeing what so few of us do - being with the people, growing. The Nile is a nice commodity - but I hope you get the upgrade - with the upgraded frills. I just finished a prayer for you - to be safe, and protected - heart, spirit, body. God bless you Kati.

Joybird said...

sweet and bittersweet memories...fellow nester I liked these last words best..."I'm grateful for the gift of making each place home, though." A wonderful gift indeed.

Bristol said...

Oh my goodness! What a trail of homes... I have been a bit transient in the past five years, but this list puts my wandering to shame! I also like to close my eyes and remember the sweet details of each place I have loved. You truly take "home" with you, Kati. I love how well you still tend to your soul in the midst of so much change.

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