Sunday, January 24, 2010

Incinerator/Power Plant/Statement

This is a common sight in Abidjan. It's a pile of trash and garbage. Eventually, someone will set fire to it. I live in a very nice neighborhood and we have trash pile that gets burned every once in a while.
When I was in Vienna, my sister's boss asked me about Abidjan and I brought up the pollution. He immediately suggested that Pat take me to see Vienna's incinerator/power plant. Pat thought that was a great idea. They both told me it was something to see. I thought it would have a big flame that looked pretty at night. Nope, fire has nothing to do with its appeal.
Vienna's incinerator looks like this.This is Fernwarm Wien. Here is my theory. The architect got high, watched Yellow Submarine, and then designed the perfect incinerator/power plant for the Land of Oz.
Unfortunately, there are no tours and there is no gift shop. I would have so bought post cards, mugs, key chains, and magnets. There was a poster in the subway station, and if I could have found it for sale anywhere, I would have bought the poster.
It sits on the Danube River. There are walkways around the whole facility, so you can get a lovely view of the river and the building. It's not in any of the guide books. The guide books need to get cracking.
It is, in many ways, just a normal incinerator/power plant with lots of decoration. But if you're going to have public utilities, they might as well make you stop and stare in a good way.
I think a lot of my excitement/love was due to my current situation. The pollution in Abidjan is so awful, and it really gets me down. Vienna was so clean. And on top of that, they took the time and the money to make their incinerator into a wacky artistic statement. The people of Vienna really love their city.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Lovely Home

Well, it's time to show everyone my house in Abidjan.

Here is a shot of the dining area and what I call the "sub-living room." It's two steps lower than the dining area, and it where I watch TV.

This is the regular living room. The internet cord is here, so this is where I am sitting RIGHT NOW while typing this entry. The stool is by the window because I was working on adjusting the way the curtains are hung (long story re: what were these people who hung these curtains thinking?). The lamp is on the floor because there is only one power outlet in this corner and the internet connection is using it. I should just put the lamp in the spare room.

I took those pictures from this balcony. It is known as the Eva Peron Balcony, and no, I did not give it that name. People come and go at Foreign Service Posts, but the houses stay in the housing pool for years. So, when I got here and people asked me where I lived. I'd say, "I'm in Chris Lopez's house." And they would reply, "Oh, the Eva Peron Balcony."

What's up on the second floor, beside the balcony? Well, there is a bedroom.

With a balcony that looks out onto a wall topped with razor wire.

The en-suite bathroom features the toilet paper roll holder IN the shower.
And the shower soap-dish outside of the shower. Note placement of shower rod vs. soap dish.

Downstairs I have three bedrooms. One is used to store stuff.

One is used for ironing.

And one is used by me. Sorry I didn't make the bed.

The best part of the house is my porch. I have been using it a lot more recently. Especially when I was sick it was really nice to loaf in my hammock and read.

I have a second patio built over the garage. I never use this one. But it was very popular at my Friday the 13th - Bon Voyage Virginia party I threw last year. My garage is on the street level, then you walk up stairs to my house and yard.

View of my neighborhood from the second patio.

My yard. I never use this. See the three plam trees that are outside my wall? I call my house, "La Maison de trois palmes." You can also make out my across-the street neighbor's wall (at street level), which gives you an idea of how high I am above the road.

I have been warned that I will have a small apartment in Munich. It will probably only have two bedrooms. I am actually looking forward to that.

A Salute to Battery-Operated Clocks

My mother's influence can be seen in my devotion to battery operated clocks. Their advantages are many. Power outage? No problem. Need a travel clock? No you don't, just toss that one in your suitcase. The plug is over there? Well, you'll need an extension cord - or not!

We had a beach cottage on the Outer Banks of North Carolina - where the power outages were many. Since my mother also taught me that every room should have a clock and a box of tissues, every bedside table had a battery operated clock. I remember thinking, "It's nice not having to deal with cords."

Here is my bedside table battery operated clock.
It fits right in with the box of tissues, glass of water, and malaria pills.

Then I went to college. And of course, I didn't read the welcome pamphlet, but Mom sure did. And she bought me a battery-operated clock to take to college. My alarm never failed to go off because there was a power outage. And there were no cords getting in my way. Or fighting over the limited amount of plug space. I think that clock lasted about ten years.

So now I'm in the Foreign Service and let me tell you, the rest of the world does not believe in multiple outlets. And if you're in West Africa, you will deal with a lot of power outages. And I hear folks at the embassy talking about having to reset their clocks and I just marvel that they don't have battery operated clocks.

Here is my kitchen clock. I bought this cheap-o at IKEA. Considering that the clock on the stove always runs fast (probably something to do with the power surges) and I got tired of re-setting the microwave clock over, and over, and over, this baby is a life-saver.

Another IKEA cheap-o. It also has an alarm, so it could be my back-up travel/bedside clock. This sits near the couch where I watch TV/knit. I usually do this in my PJs, so I'm not wearing my watch. And due to the power outages, I have never set the clock on my VCR.

I got this one at either Target or Wal-Mart. This is the semi-classy one, and I paid more that $5 for it. I like that it spins on it's stand so I can angle it. It is usually set to face me so when I'm lying on my couch in the living room, I can glance up and see the time.

A clock in the bathroom is great. This one has a suction cup so I can just stick it to the mirror. It fell off a few times, but I eventually learned to wet the suction cups before putting it up. Now when I have to change the battery, I have to really work to pull it off. This was from