House-hunting in Copan Ruinas

We�ve been house-hunting, an experience I never liked in Canada. In Copan Ruinas, it�s so baffling it transcends unpleasantness.
For starters, there�s no simple way to look for places here. There�s no local paper or bulletin boards with apartment-to-rent ads. A handful of places have �Apartmento se renta� signs tacked up on doors, but not many.
The standard method is to ask anyone you can think of if they know of a place to rent, generally in Spanish, adding a layer of complexity. We�ve asked at the language school, in hotels and restaurants, called the local bilingual school that hosts teachers from North America, and asked the women running pulperias - the ubiquitous corner stores - in areas that looked promising.That�s part of the challenge - figuring out which areas look promising.
The first criteria is security. Copan, I stress again, is safe. But people are poor and every house has bars of some kind - often decorative - on the windows to prevent break-ins. As gringos, we�ll be presumed (not inaccurately in this conext) to be rich, and sometimes we�ll be away from home for a few days. Our new home needs to have good locks, a decent neighbourhood and, ideally, neighbours who will keep an eye on the place when aren�t there.
Then there�s the giant difference in basic standards between Canada and Honduras. We don�t want to live as if we were in Canada, even if we could afford it on a Cuso budget. It seems rude to come here and live way better than the people Jody will be working with, and foolish to live in a bubble that prevents us from understanding the place and the people who live here.
But housing here tends to be really basic. Partly, that�s simply a matter of money. Most people don�t have much. But there are also different cultural values. Decoration - even family pictures - is sparse to non-existent. There�s a tolerance for a lack of privacy that we don�t have. And things that would bug us on a daily basis - a shower head supported by a piece of string tied to the ceiling, bare florescent ceiling bulbs powered by a tangled web of wires and electrical tape, grimy walls - don�t seem to register.
And then there are the surprising issues. The municipal water supply serves most homes three days a week; you need a big enough roof tank to get through the times no water is available.
We�ve looked at half a dozen places, one twice when two different people guided us there. Several have been small - one room, or a room with a bedroom. One was a largish house, but in rough shape. A couple have been furnished, if a set of plastic outdoor chairs and a plastic table count. (Buying furniture presents another set of problems. We�ve found two �furniture stores,� both tiny and with four or five dressers, a couple of beds and two or three sofa, loveseat chair sets.)
Apartments have been cheap. Typically $150 bare, $250 furnished. And there seems to be little between cheap and way basic, and too expensive for us.
We�ve found one promising place, and have a few more to look at. (We stopped in at a German restaurant yesterday and asked about rentals today. They steered us to a house we�re going to look at today.)
And we�ve had a lot of generous help from people.
It matters quite a bit. Copan is beautiful and the people friendly, but we�re strangers in a strange land. A home that�s comfortable and secure is going to be critical on the inevitable days when things seem just a little too crazy.

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