There’s green stuff growing on my wooden cutting board! When I say, “stuff” I don’t mean trees and flowers and veggies! I mean, mold! Ugh! It’s friggin’ damp up here right now! Here in Boquete there are many different microclimates relatively close in proximity. So, if you don’t like the weather in one area, maybe , lets say, its too windy here, or too rainy there, or just too warm for you there, you can choose to try out a different area. It’s really quite amazing just how different the weather can be in such a reletively small place like Boquete. Of course if you buy a piece of property and spend every waking hour working on building yourself a home, well, then, ahem… it’s a little too late for trying out different areas! hah! Lucky for us we had already gotten a pretty good idea of most of the different microclimates we had to choose from and we just fell in love with the Jaramillo area. What one must do when faced with the reality that its the ‘wet’ season inside and out, is rage a full blown war on the dampness that is invading your house! Or just learn to live with mold and mildew and hope like hell it doesn’t make you sick! Nope…. its war!
Up until this current rainy season,we haven’t really seen any big problems with mold and moisture in the different places where we’ve lived up here in Boquete. Our first year here we spent living in Alto Lino and although it was pretty rainy there the house we lived in never seemed too bad in terms of mold issues. One of the many nice things about living in Bond & Luana’s house, (that was where we rented for our first year here), was that we could keep all the widows open all the time. So we almost always had a refreshing, cool breeze going through the house which kept the air circulating. This may be one reason we never had a lot of mold issues there. Or, it could be that the humidity was not nearly as bad as it is up here in the Jaramillo area.
I know many people who have said, “Oh, we used to live in Jaramillo, but the mold issues were terrible!”…Scott and I always sorta shrugged our shoulders and said to one another ,”we’ve never really noticed a problem”. After living in Bond & Luana’s house we lived in our neighbors house up here in Jaramillo while we finished building our casita. Kat & Alan have two dehumidifiers in their house which they have connected to a hose to drain outside and they have it programmed to come on when the humidity gets to a certain level. They also have ceiling fans in each room which is helpful in keeping the air circulating. While living there we noticed a bit of mold accumulating on things like leather shoes and purses in the closet, but other than that we really didn’t notice much of an issue.
Now, as you know, we’ve been living in our little casita for about the last ten months. This is our first official ‘rainy season’ living up here. The heavy rainy season didn’t really feel as though it officially kicked in until about a month ago. And, let me tell you….It’s WET! We have a quebrada or gully that runs through our property. For the majority of the year its dry but right now its a rushing stream. The peaceful sound of the water rushing over the boulders and down the hill past our terrace is spectacular but it only lasts about two months during this rainy season and then reverts back to a dry gully for the rest of the year. We’ve been getting torrential rain most afternoons as is normal for October. In the early evening most days, there’s a thick fog that rolls through and let me tell you, San Francisco has never seen fog quite like this! I mean, I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and I’ve seen plenty of fog, but here I swear you can feel this fog hit you in the face! And I’m pretty sure its not only OUTSIDE! That thick rolling fog is rolling right through our house leaving bits of moisture in its wake.
And, in addition to the moisture I’m moaning about in my house…it’s not doing anything good for my curly hair. As that lovely thick, damp fog is just coursing through my curly hair,I can feel it transforming my nicely defined curls into the biggest fuzzy afro you’ve seen, not a pretty sight! As if fuzzy hair weren’t bad enough… Its also going right into my house, making everything feel damp. Ugh! The furniture feels damp, all my clothes in my closet feel damp and smell kinda mildewy too, did I mention….UGH!!! I’ve never experienced so much moisture in my life.
All this to say, It’s seriously wet up here in Jaramillo at the moment. I picked up the big wooden cutting board we keep on our kitchen counter and the underside of it was covered in mold. We have a wooden salad bowl, it’s covered in mold. And I’m not talking a few little green spots, NOOOOOOO….its literally covered in thick green powdery mold! Every wooden spoon and spatula is beginning to grow this same green powdery mold too. Sheesh! Luckily we invested in some really good, air tight storage containers for things like sugar and salt and flour. I noticed on the salt container little droplets of dew, just wishing it could get to the salt. Another shocking moment was when I opened a brand new, sealed bag of Ritz crackers and they were totally soggy! Yuck! How the heck does the moisture seep into a sealed bag??? Its crazy!
So, here’s the problem and one reason why the moisture has begun to wreak havoc around my house ….I haven’t been using our dehumidifier at all, Duh! Nor have I been using the ceiling fan. I’ve been keeping as many of the windows open as I can but all that seems to be doing is give that lovely fog and moisture free reign over my house, leaving everything damp ,soggy and musty smelling. Yesterday I was searching for a hair clip that seems to have disappeared, I’ve been searching high and low for it and I decided to search the sofa. I lifted up the cushions and was shocked to find that the springs were actually wet, and beginning to rust right through the fabric of the couch! Holy Crap! I’m telling ya….It’s about time to begin a war against the moisture!!! And…I will win!!!
Everyday now I take the cushions off the sofa and stand them up so they can get air. I have the dehumidifier blasting all day, the ceiling fan running and I’ve been using vinegar on my wooden cutting boards, spoons and any other wooden implements in the kitchen. I’ve read Vinegar helps to fight mold from growing on things. And, as we speak Scott and I are about to go to Price Smart and buy a second dehumidifier! We’re in full blown mold and mildew war and I’m beginning to see that we can win this thing with a little bit of consistency and some vinegar rubbed onto surfaces that attract mold and of course by the constant use of that friendly dehumidifier. The moisture is slowly abating and the musty smell of my clothes has gone away. When we sit on the furniture it no longer feels damp and I’ve gotten rid of all the green powdery mold on our wooden cutting boards. Whew, what a relief!
Just one more thing we’re adapting to in this new beginning that we’ve forged for ourselves. We live in the tropics and it gets damp this time of year, duh! Most of the rest of the year the moisture doesn’t seem to be such a problem, mainly its at the height of rainy season, which is the month of October, when the moisture really lets itself into every nook and cranny. So, we adapt and learn how to live with it and voila, all is well! Not that all wasn’t already ‘well’, its just not quite so wet and musty now that I’ve got a grip on how to manage it! I just love the rainy season! Aside from the need to maintain an environment free of mold and mildew inside our house, I continue to bask in the sound of the torrential downpours and the rolling , thunder and I never stop marveling at the lightening that lights up the night sky. I wish you could hear the rushing water as it crashes through the rocks below our terrace. All the beauty that comes with the wet time of year really makes this war of mold worth the battle. But…the Fuzzy hair? Well, that’s a whole other issue! One, I’m not winning…!@?%$….