We eventually moved into a new house. We were the first occupants of this newly constructed house. It looked pretty and upscale and like a comfortable place to live. But, of course, appearances are often deceiving.
I felt insecure in the house because, unlike most nicer houses in Arusha, this one does not have a block wall all the way around. It has an incomplete wall with a giant metal gate across the front of the compound, and just a wire fence down the long side. I remedied the insecurity by hiring KK Security.
We heard our first bit of gossip about the house one day when K2 was out in the garden. A passing neighbor, who could easily see everything happening inside our compound, stopped to chat. He told K2 that the owner did build a block wall. But it collapsed! That explains the piles of rubble and broken cinder blocks in the corners of the garden. Some neighbors carried off the gate, but it was huge and heavy, so they didn't get far, and the workers found it and brought it back.
Two weeks after we moved into the house, the kitchen sink and the dining room sink (customary in Tanzanian homes so you can wash your hands before you eat) both sprung leaks at the same moment. Lucky for me, at that moment, K2's friend Ali was out in the garden. He managed to stop the leaks by wrapping them with strips of plastic bags. Meanwhile, K2 brought a plumber. The plumber fixed both leaks. As long as he was in the house, I took the opportunity to list my many complaints about the house's plumbing--which I still imagined might be repaired. His conclusion? All of the pipes in the house are in very poor condition, apparently salvaged from older houses. All of the plumbing is assembled incorrectly. The roof-top water tank would need to be elevated much higher in order to provide adequate water pressure into the house. Hmmm.... At least the sink and shower fittings are pretty.
After the plumber left, I wanted to make tea for Ali and K2. I carried the electric kettle from outlet to outlet. The two kitchen outlets just went, "bzzztt," and provided no electricity. The two outlets in the dining room and sitting room didn't say anything to me, neither did they provide electricity. Finally, the outlet in the hallway worked and I was able to serve tea. And when the refrigerator turns on, the ceiling light in the sitting room dims. So I need to be careful that I'm not standing in water from the leaking kitchen sink when I try to plug the kettle into the outlet that buzzes.
A couple of days after this, K2 was telling Mama Q, the agent who helped us find the house, about our travails. She told him that our landlord, a married man living in Dar es Salaam with his wife, had sent the construction money to his mistress, who lives in our neighborhood. It was her job to buy supplies, hire workers, and supervise the construction. She skimmed money off the top, by buying used materials and hiring the cheapest workers. That explains why the house looks so pretty, with granite counter tops and shiny faucets and a big sink, but everything you don't see is crap. And why the builders made so many mistakes. So the owner can walk into his house, look around, and see that it's an expensive, modern house with all the amenities. And his mistress made a nice profit.
K2 wasn't expecting to spend many more nights at this house, because he was solidly booked for guiding Kilimanjaro treks until October. But two groups in a row cancelled their treks, and he found himself living in the house. And fixing more plumbing leaks. Then the water stopped flowing inside the house. It's not a supply problem, because the outside tap in the garden has water. The lower tank is full, but it seems that the water is not reaching the roof tank, even though the electric pump is running. And now the lower tank has started leaking.
Workers placed this tank and back-filled around it with very loose, wet dirt during heavy rains a couple of days before we took possession of the house. Before I came home, it was already settling and crooked. Maybe it's crooked enough that it's pulled connections loose. See that lump on the right rib on top of the tank?