Saturday, 30 November 2013

A house with a view

There were several “near misses” where we saw somewhere and it wasn’t anything that I wanted but my husband would say something like “maybe we could just take it for the moment until we sort ourselves out and then sell it again when we find what we are looking for”.  Usually my heart would sink but I would say nothing, we would think about it and then it would fade away to be replaced by another possibility.  The very first house we saw that helped me to at last visualize a home of our own in Algeria was one right on the sea.  It was old and hadn’t been lived in for a while, and it had a swimming pool that could be filled with water from the sea.  On the first floor there was a veranda that went around the front of the house and looked out over a small beach, and, of course, the sea!  It was so close that the veranda was wet with a mist of water from the huge waves as it was still winter.  The house itself wasn’t really big enough and needed extensive renovation, and there was a little road that went along the house down to the sea and we couldn’t help but notice the beer bottles thrown here and there.  We knew then, that in the summer this haven could easily turn into a hell.

We did find one home after a few months that got me really excited and had me planning how to furnish it.  We brought the children to see it and they loved it.  So that was settled then.  It was even further away from Algiers but that didn’t bother me. The view of the sea was in the distance, but by this stage I had resigned myself to the fact that you could either live right by the sea and not have any  sea view because of  the other buildings around you, or live at a distance on higher ground where you could see the sea above all the buildings.  We just had to wait while the seller sorted out some paperwork.  At last we had an end in sight and we waited, and we waited.  Sarah, our daughter, joined us at last having finished her exams in England,  and we were still waiting.  One day my husband brought a structural engineer to have a look at the house, and he took one look and told my husband to forget it – the builder had obviously skimped on the cement and he said that he thought it was extremely unsafe, especially in an earthquake zone.  We had been in Algeria 8 months and were back to square one.  That was such a horrible time, but alhamdulilah we had found out before we bought the house. We then found another possibility in the same area but when my husband described it to the engineer he said he wouldn’t even bother going to see it.  It had only 4 metal bars sticking out at the top on the terrace, which meant that the concrete was only reinforced with 4 metal bars, and that was 2 bars too little in an earthquake zone. This engineer was the son of our landlord and I am ashamed to admit, that in my desperation, I started to suspect that he just didn’t want us to move out!  I started thinking maybe I was asking for too much and very briefly I reduced my requests in my prayers.  And then I thought that Allah has told us to ask Him for anything we want and He will hear our prayers, and I thought, “I am limiting him astaghfirallah!  I shall ask for everything I want – if I don’t ask Him, who can I ask?”  I used to get up before Fajir to say the night prayer knowing that He was there asking if there was anyone who needed something from Him, and when I lay down at night to put my little one to sleep, I used to ask him to ask Allah for the perfect home for us.

Then I said to my husband “OK we have done it your way, now lets do it mine!”  He had said that it was doubtful if we could find a home by the sea.  I looked at him incredulously and showed him the map of Algeria,  “Are you trying to tell me that with all this coast line” I said as I gestured at the sea all the way from Constantine to Oran, with Algiers plonked right in the middle, “that there is NOWHERE for us to find a home by the sea?!!!!”  “Well I don’t want to live in Constantine or Oran” he said.  “OK, but how about the other side of Algiers?”  We had only been looking on the western side where we lived.  “I don’t know anything about that side of Algiers” he said.  “You mean to say that you went all the way to England, and you are afraid to go to the other side of Algiers, even just to look?”  I asked incredulously again.  So, leaving the older ones very happily at home with Sarah we got into the car and drove around the coast of the Bay of Algiers to the “Other Side!!!!!” stopping at every estate agent on the road.  Admittedly some of them were disasters and I had to learn to keep my mouth shut (a very difficult thing for me to do, but all in a good cause! – come to think of it, I think the reason my husband enjoyed the house hunt so much were those moments of bliss for him!) as otherwise the price skyrocketed.  “Well, I thought there was a house here” said the estate agent as we looked at a cement platform with four pillars.  “But the view is nice” he said.  Yes it is, I thought if you like a view of a motorway with cars careering up and down.  Another one wanted to sell us his home, which was not finished, and he and his family were living in the garage. But we also saw some really lovely homes, but they usually were on the big side with several floors each complete with bathrooms and kitchens and I had visions of my husband’s family all moving in with us!

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