Home in Ioannina – at least for the time being – is at the Second tree volunteers’ house (though it’s a flat, not a house.) It is on the fourth floor, and though there is a lift, this was completely filled last night when I arrived with my bags and some additional stationery that needed to be delivered – it is a very small lift – and we had to walk up.
It might best be compared to a student house. Not the modern purpose-built ones with ensuites etc, but a regular house converted for multiple occupation. This usually means the loss of the living room, in order to squeeze in an extra student, but in this case the huge living area has been preserved, and serves as a joint social area-cum-workspace, with sofas at one end, and a table for computers etc at the other. The downside of this arrangement is that people still have to have room to sleep, and this means dorm-style bedrooms with a couple of sets of bunk beds. All the cosier, though somehow less comfortable, is the fact that they are mixed-sex.
In some ways, more stressful are the other communal areas: the two bathrooms and the kitchen, which have to cater (no pun intended) for the needs of twelve occupants. The kitchen is a nightmare, with one small and rather battered cooker, and one fridge (and not even a kettle, since it kept tripping the electrics.) Cooking looks stressful – not that I’ve done any yet – and storage is worse. I’m not usually bothered by such things, but the fridge is a hygiene disaster zone, with cooked and raw, new and old, mine and everyone else’s all jockeying for position and threatening to throw themselves out every time the door opens.
And with everyone sharing the one place, it’s all a bit… messy (and I am not tidy.) I’ve seen plenty worse student houses, but I gave up living in them a long time ago, and don’t fancy re-living those days. I rush to explain that it is not the people – everyone has been extremely friendly and pleasant – but the challenge to my own powers of tolerance, organisation, sociability…
I need to move out (not least because my bed is earmarked for someone else) by the end of the week, and to somewhere which suits me better (such as my little apartment in Mytilini). I have been nudged in the direction of Carolina, who is an administrative volunteer who is already engaged on a similar task for someone else. So, with luck, Home will not be home for very long.