Are you a fan of HGTV’s House Hunters International like I am? We watch them on Hulu when we get a chance. They’re more interesting than the regular House Hunters, because it’s a little like traveling vicariously. I like to make fun of American buyers who, almost without fail, laugh at the bidet when there is one. But mostly I like to see how other cultures organize and use their living spaces. So the episodes where Americans buy vacation homes in Mexico or Central America that are specifically built for expats are pretty boring. I much prefer the ones where buyers look at real homes.
For those of you who like to see how other cultures live, let’s take a quick tour of my sister’s new home in Quito, Ecuador. Her home is in nicer neighborhood in the north part of the city.
This is three unit home that share a common parking area and back yard. Her landlords live across the hall.
It’s nicer, yes, but it’s also still Quito, where robbery is common. So their home is surrounded by thick walls and electric fencing.
Inside the garage, the cars are packed in tight and parked on tile. There’s also a night-time guard who hangs out in this area.
Let me just say I wouldn’t want to have to park in there, but Kelley says she’s used to it.
From there you can take the elevator up one floor (say, when carrying groceries or a baby in a stroller) or hit the stairs. From the doorway, you’ll see this:
To the right is a small powder room, or as the Ecuadorians say, the “social bathroom.” That term makes a lot more sense. I don’t know that I’ve ever powdered my nose in a powder room.
From the corner of the living room, you can get an idea of how this home is split into various levels:
And through the living room you can access the terrace.
The terrace is a super nice feature, especially when you have little ones who need to be corralled but might want to be outside. It’s much larger than what we would think of as a balcony; it’s more like a deck. And it’s also great because you get views of this:
Returning from the terrace and through the living room, you can see again the split-level nature of the home through the stairs up to the kitchen/dining room area.
At the top of the stairs, there’s a little area that Kelley is using for Canaan’s play area.
The baskets have toys and other storage options. Those baskets are made locally. I don’t know what others might use this area for, but it’s great for Canaan, because it close to the kitchen, where Kel spends a fair amount of time, crafting delicious food at altitude.
That little area is blocked of by custom-made baby gates that Nate and Kelley had made to keep Canaan corralled. Regular gates wouldn’t work because the stair rails are made of metal.
Here’s the dining room:
And here’s another shot of the dining room from the half-level that overlooks the living room.
And then, always of great interest to me on HHI, the kitchen.
Plenty of counter space, but definitely no dishwasher. Skylights keep it nice and bright during the day, though. Here’s another angle from the other side.
Kel would probably want everyone to know the coffee maker is only out because we were visiting.
Behind the kitchen, we have something characteristic to all Ecuadorian homes, the pila area. This, my friends, is a pila.
Basically it’s a cement washboard and tub. Even the Ecuadorian family who moved into Western housing with us when we lived in the jungle set up a pila outside. Theirs was a slanted board on a 4×4 with a hose, but still. Pilas are a necessity for Ecuadorians. Kelley’s pila currently houses her potted herb garden. Also in this area is a clothes line, and storage for drinking water and propane. No gas lines here! Another interesting fact I learned that I hadn’t known before, was that Quito has won awards for their water treatment, so it should be safe to drink. The problem is what your pipes are made of.
Behind the pila area is an actual washer and dryer, and the maid’s quarters. Most upper-class families would have house-keeping staff. If the staff lives there, this is what would their personal area. Usually they are a small bedroom and a bathroom. Most people I know use them as storage. This was my son’s bedroom while we were there. The maid’s quarters is so tight, that the pack n play filled it quite well. A twin bed would be a squeeze, with not much room for anything else.
Off the maid’s quarters is the backyard, which the landlords have graciously granted them access to.
It’s a good green space with a barbecue area and apartment buildings looming above. But it’s completely enclosed, so it’s another ideal place for kids to play.
What’s that? You want to see bedrooms you say? Well, let’s head back through the pila and the kitchen, past the play area, around the baby gates and up the stairs to the master bedroom.
How would you like to wake up to this view every morning?
Gorgeous, right? Or how about this shot, where it looks like they sleep in heaven:
And with my back to the windows, you can see only half the closet space in the room.
All three bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms, which is super helpful but not fun to clean. And because I’m a bad blogger, I failed to capture photos of either of the other two bedrooms. But I did snag a photo of their office area, which they placed at the top of one of the landings:
Thank you for joining me on this hijacked episode of HHI. And unlike HHI, here we can answer questions! What did you think? Shall we ask Kelley for more photos for further clarification?