The landowner and his family asked for $650 for the ceremony, which really got us pissed off, even though we have heard of other westerners being taken for much more. I mean, they sometimes see us as dollar signs.
I can't figure out where $650 went--okay the priest is paid for his time, and there was tremendous of food and flowers. Also these small wooden boxes are put on each structure and are called temples, so offerings had to be placed on each one. Still--$650?
The ceremony was lovely and a few friends showed up to share with us. Bells were ringing, water was being thrown on us, rice was dropped on heads and flowers and food was placed everywhere. Our driver friend brought a delicious smoked chicken, and we had some fruit and eggs left for us to eat.
We have hired a young, single woman to be our house manager and pembantu (one who cleans, makes food etc.). She has worked for westerners (bouleys) in the past and so she speaks English fairly well. We are going to trust her to not only keep the house in order, but also pay the bills and take care of guests while we are gone. She claims to be a good cook and that is important because she will be making breakfast for guests. Neither Barbara nor I have big breakfasts these days but we will have her cook for us to see how good she is. because she will have to cook breakfast for guests. There is always more to learn--we now discover we are expected to pay for lunch for people who work full-time--go figure!
The next event in our continuing education is the expectation that we pay for the daily and holiday offerings. (Offerings--you should know by now are the small baskets of flowers, rice incense and fruit that are set out in front of every structure daily.) The landowner, Sade' says the offerings have to come from our village, which means he wants us to pay him to have his wife bring them over every day (she will also be working part-time for us). Well, Made', our pembantu, who is from another village says she can bring them for half the price that Sade' wants, but Sade' nixed that idea because he says the offerings must be done by his family. We don't want to spend as much money as he wants, so we are going to offer half the price and he pays half. So the negotiations continue and we will have a meeting on Monday to settle the whole affair. I feel like we're in the middle of a situation like US government budget crisis.
We hired a recycling company to pick up our separated trash every week, hooked up our stove-top to a propane gas tank, scheduled weekly delivery of bottled water, learned how to pay the government water bill (drive to an office and pay in person with cash) and . We are now looking for a part-time gardener/ pool man/handy man.
We hear stories of all the problems here and people getting taken for their money and getting ripped-off and having medical problems and unhappy ex-pats. Among the ex-pats there always a lot of negative talk, but through it all this is still a pretty nice place to live--great warm weather all year, fabulous food and all for a lot less than it costs to live in the States. When our house is completed we will have no mortgage (gotta look into insurance) and less than $500 in house costs per month. The house is set up for easy rental and this will all be extra money for us so we can travel and there is still a lot of world to see. Air Asia has some very good deals that we hope to be able to take advantage of.
We finally got our sun beds (chaise longues) and had a two level fish/lotus pond with waterfall built. The lack of full electric power prevents us from running the pump, but that will come in time. We have a gardener advising us and planting our garden--it is just amazing how fast the landscaping takes place. They come in with full-grown plants, shrubs and trees and in they go! You just have to stick a plant in the ground, water it and in a short time you watch your garden grow! Now we'll get cuttings from friends and plant ourselves. The lawn is planted in one day--and after a few weeks it will take hold and we'll have a lawn
Barbara has designed a web page for the house--see it at:
Following are some pictures of the house. What do you think?