Life Unparalleled

Loving Life as a Foreign Service Family – Current Parallel 41° 23' N – Barcelona, Spain

So you are moving to a developing prepared for clutter


This post may seem pointless to many of my Foreign Service friends, but many people from the US have never lived over seas. Even fewer have lived in a developing country. I wasn’t prepared for how cluttered my house would feel because of gadgets, technology and other systems I would need to stay sane and healthy. These pictures show some of the small differences from life in the US.

Cooker(stove) on and off switch. There are many fires in developing countries. So the gas it turned off after cooking.


Water distiller which purifies our drinking water so we do not get sick. This means we can’t use sink water when brushing our teeth so we have bottles of water on the counters in the bathroom. Rinsing with sink water is a hard habit to break. Maintenance comes every 4 months to change the filter and do repairs. It takes up valuable counter space.


The box on the left in a transformer. Nigeria uses 220v electronics, the US 110v. If we want to plug a 110 appliance in to use we have to use a transformer. These blow fuses like crazy because of all of the power outages and spikes. It is also much harder on your gadgets and appliances and shortens their life spans. The box on the right is a UPS, uninterrupted power supply. It is a backup battery that keeps things running when the power goes out and it takes up to a few minutes for the generator to kick in. It is very important to keep things like internet, the TV, and my Instapot working. Every time the power goes out it beeps until it comes back on. There is no way to change this. I can finally a year in sleep through the beep.


Our buildings are made of cement so no central air conditioning. Every room has 1-3 wall units like this. You can’t put anything you care for, paintings or furniture, underneath or you risk it getting ruined by water. I have a few friends who have had mud come pouring out of their units during a storm. It makes decorating and furniture placement a challenge. The AC condensers take up much of the space on the balcony’s and are so noisy.


Don’t accidentally flip this switch or you will have no hot water. Once again fire prevention and saving energy.


Wifi extender because wifi doesn’t play well with concrete walls.


Water heater in the shower. I pretend it isn’t an electrocution hazard. Don’t hit your head.


Outlet adapter so you can run American style electronics that have a 110v-240v range like computer chargers, tv, keyboard, phone charger etc. I own 10 of these but it is never enough I can never find them when I need them. The good news is Barcelona is a 220v country but it has a different plug. Sigh.You also see there is a switch on top of the outlet. Turn things off when you don’t use them to save energy of course but even more so because all of the power fluctuations fry things terribly.


Air purifiers to clean the sometimes questionable air.


Alarm systems of multiple varieties. Ugly, ugly, ugly but they help keep us safe.


Dehumidifiers that you cross your fingers might be able to get humidity down to about 50% so you can reduce your chances of growing mold.

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