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July 17, 2008 Spring Cleaning

OK, so Spring ended a long time ago. But “Zahra” moved out even longer ago, which meant that her apartment – soon to be my apartment – was in desperate need of an overhaul. My auntie, little sister, and little cousin went over one fine morning to see what could be done. Armed only with brooms, squeegees, and the all-purpose cleaning agent Tide, we launched a full-frontal assault on The Dirt.

Xalti tackled the main floor of the apartment, the little girls were on dustpan duty, and I took on the stairs to the roof.

I’m willing to bet that those stairs weren’t swept any time in the past two years. They were gross.

Over time, the mixture of dirt and dust had conquered on the edges of the stairs and steadily encroached inwards, until there was only a narrow corridor that was even walkable. I started at the top landing and worked my way down, letting gravity help me as much as possible. At each step, I’d start by stabbing the broom into a corner, heaving forwards, and seeing how much of the dirt I could get all the way to the bottom of the stairs. I’d repeat this stab-and-shove across the breadth of the step, then do a few lateral swipes to make sure it was cleared off. Go down six inches, and lather-rinse-repeat.

The cloud of dust in the staircase was pretty intense; Xalti wisely closed the bottom door so that the dirt didn’t flood the kitchen, and I found a small window which helped air flow.
When I finally got down to the bottom of the flight, the mounded dirt and dust was several inches thick across the entire landing. {shudder}

I’d originally planned to sweep the dirt across the kitchen, down the front steps, and into the street, but this mountain of grime made that plan unworkable. After thinking for a bit, I took a shallow plastic basin – about the size of a Great Dane’s food dish – and filled it with dirt, using the dustpan as a shovel. Once it was heaped high, I carried it up to the roof to shake it down into the alley. I nearly hit a neighbor with the waterfall of dirt (sorry!), so I changed tactics. I carried the now-half-full dish down the flights of stairs and scattered it in the alley from two feet up, instead of 40. Success.

It took another three trips—filling the basin with dirt each time—to clear out of the landing, but when I was done, I was seriously proud. The roof stairs are now inviting. I actually look forward to walking up them and enjoying my roof balcony…whereas before, I dreaded trying to pick a path through the muck.

By the time I’d finished the stairs, Xalti had cleaned every corner of the kitchen, plus swept and squeegee’d the big rooms. We finished up the lower stairs together, and the job was safi.
We got the Peace Corps approval of the apartment that night, so my inshallah apartment is now officially mine! :)

Now as soon as I can bring myself to say goodbye to my host family, or on August 1st, whichever comes first, I can move in.

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Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps