A Home Fit for Cheese Lovers

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By Grace N.
Feb. 13, 2020

Youth Development Volunteer, Grace, gives us a look into what her housing situation is like while serving in Costa Rica. Enjoy her #PeaceCorpsHouseTour

Describe your neighborhood: Rural area of about 700 people, mixed influence of indigenous and mestizo [mixed race] population. Economy dominated by agriculture of guava trees, coffee, and local dairy farms

Square footage (estimates are okay!): Maybe about 1,000, including the "quesera" [cheese factory] that’s attached to the kitchen.

How long have you lived here?: One year

Who do you share your home with? Host family which includes my mom and dad, two siblings, three dogs, one rabbit, five chickens, and a million spiders.

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A functional, modest, natural and cozy home.

Describe your house’s style in 5 words or less: Functional, modest, natural, cozy, usually-smells-like-cheese

What’s the most functional thing in your house? (Mosquito net, wood fire stove, etc.): Definitely my mosquito net. I live in a colder region, so mosquitoes aren’t too much of an issue, but I have a lot of moths that love to slap against my computer screen at night. Mosquito nets prevents this from happening.

What’s your favorite bargain find in your home? A set of tupperware that I won in bingo. Five fully functioning and reusable tupperwares for the price of less than a dollar for a bingo card.

Who/what was your most interesting house guest? Because my host family sells cheese and dairy for the majority of my community, I have interesting house guests every day! But the horse that jumped our fence and ate the banana tree outside my bedroom window definitely takes the cake.

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ABOVE and BELOW: Two views of the kitchen
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I tried to come in to Peace Corps with zero expectations regarding housing, but my house is actually pretty nice.

Proudest DIY: My executive decision that my suitcase will double as a bookshelf/Peace Corps manual storage.

Biggest indulgence (did you buy a couch? A fancy cooking gadget?): Glade. Plugins. Due to the open spaces between doors and walls in my room, whenever I leave site my room smells like mildew. I smuggled in some glade plugins from the states and now I can have a pine tree scented environment even when it’s 80 degrees in December. Battery powered Christmas lights are also a big hit for our bi-monthly power outages.

What advice do you have for PCVs looking to create a home they love? If it sparks joy, tape it to the wall. I have so many photos and drawings from students hung up in my room that make things feel a little more cozy.

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Grace tapes photos, drawings and letters to her wall to make her home feel more cozy.

How does your home compare to your expectations before service? I tried to come in to Peace Corps with zero expectations regarding housing, but my house is actually pretty nice. I love that I’m surrounded by nature all the time and that if I want a banana I can walk outside and get one. I’m a little more isolated than I had anticipated, my closest bank and grocery store is about two hours away, but local produce and staple food is almost always available. I also was not expecting to live in a cheese factory, but it is one of the many fun surprises that comes along with Peace Corps service.

What are other homes in your community like? How do they differ from yours? Be honest. Considering my host dad employs many of the people in the town through his dairy production business, my family is pretty well off. My neighborhood has a diverse range of housing options due to the diverse population that lives here. I’ve visited friends that have wooden floors and latrines that are right next to houses with indoor plumbing and flat-screen TV’s. Every home is different depending on the family and what they have made for themselves here.

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Grace gets creative with the limited space she has for her personal effects