Our first Monday at Ukarumpa was very busy, we spent the day with our host couple, Benji and Esther. They showed us how to get a post office box, and told us how the mail works here. They got us set up at the bank and told us how to get access to our money. The bank is interesting because in many ways Ukarumpa runs on credit. Everyone has an account number and if you give it at the store they will just debit your account. The interesting thing is that the account numbers for everyone are posted for all to see. That way, if someone owes you money, you just go to the bank and get it from his account…without him. It seems very strange to Americans who are so used to being careful about identity theft, but it works here.
After we completed our errands with Benji and Esther, we went to the housing department and asked if they had any other houses available. Ukarumpa is able to support a population of up to around 1,000 people and currently supports somewhere between 350 and 500 people, so there are plenty of housing opportunities available. The population fluctuations are a result of translators being out at villages and people going on furlough and stuff like that. At any rate, we were able to get a different house that was still very close to our jobs, right across the street from the store, close to the market, and in a much busier neighborhood, which makes us feel more secure at night. Also, the new house has solid floors, so fewer geckos come in, Jacob found three dead ones in the old house, and at the new house one gecko did come in when Kim opened the door to enter once, but that is still two less geckos then we found at the old house! Our new house has five bedrooms, which is obviously too large for us, but it is very nice with hardwood floors and a fireplace.
Our new house has two two-thousand gallon water tanks that collect rain water from our roof gutters. We then use the rain water for drinking and bathing. The old house we were at had one one-thousand gallon tank and was plumbed so we could use the tank water for drinking, but not bathing. For bathing the old house used what people here call ram water. Ram water is the water from the water distribution system; it operates much as water from distribution systems in the states, but it comes from a muddy creek and receives no treatment prior to being piped to the homes. Being that it is currently the rainy season, the ram water is very muddy and you can imagine how fun it is to shower in smelly water that looks like chocolate milk. We are very thankful for the rain water system this new house has.