Skip to main content

Welcome to Mold Haven

When we came home from our summer vacation after Labor Day weekend we were greeted by a house full of mold. We had no idea we should have left all our air conditioners running full blast for three weeks while we were out of the house. We left all the ceiling fans on and we left the air conditioner on in our bedroom just low enough to keep one room comfortable for the cat. We were saving electricity. In a house with faulty wiring and a generator that continuously goes on and off, we thought that was the right thing to do.

But the monsoon season won. Mold. Not so much in the walls and ceilings as far as we can tell, but individual objects in random places. My vegetable ivory jewelry that was stored in one place, but not the vegetable ivory that was stored in another. Mike's dress shoes but not mine. One coat out of a closet full of them. None of the clothing drawers, except for the one filled with my bras. One drawer in my bedside table but not the other drawer.

We've had some of the mold tested. It's toxic in large quantities. We don't think we have large enough quantities and we cleaned it up as soon as we started finding it. We think we're okay, but we're not experts.

Maintenance hasn't been too worried. First they tried to tell us it was dust from the construction going on next door. Then they said it was "Just fungus." I'm sorry, just fungus? They tried to tell us the air purifier was a dehumidifier before admitting they had no idea what a dehumidifier was.

That's when we had to start laughing. Dehumidifiers should be handed out upon arrival at the airport here, along with your entry stamp and a cup of chai. But the maintenance guys had no idea what we were talking about. We went to several appliance stores who gave us blank stares and Mike said to one sales guy "If you don't know what I'm asking for, then you probably don't have it." The guy laughed and agreed. A friend tipped us off to apparently the one store in town that carries them. They know they are the one store in town that carries them and can charge quite a bit, but we bought one. They were out of stock and we had to wait twenty-four hours for delivery. When it arrived, our housekeeper was amazed that such a machine even existed. She thinks India would be a better place if more people knew of this technology.

We have washed everything in white vinegar. Most of Sophie's stuffed animals were saved by a spin in a super-hot washing machine cycle followed by a thorough drying. What's odd is that the shelves I keep my fabrics on had mold, but only one of the fabrics actually did. I ran them all through the washer to freshen up, anyway. We removed the carpet from our bedroom; the mold was the worst in there. Luckily Sophie's room was one of the least affected areas of the house; I cleaned up all of her stuffed animals the day we arrived home, threw out some of the clothing that was beyond saving, and the mold has not returned to her room.

The dehumidifier is running day and night. When the power goes out and shuts it down, it only takes an hour or two for the mold smell to come back into our bedroom. Between air purifiers, air conditioners, and the dehumidifier, after several weeks it feels like we have finally gained on the mold. There doesn't appear to be new growth in any of the places we've cleaned up. We are anxiously awaiting an order of silica gel desiccants, those little white "Do Not Eat" packs, to keep in our drawers and suitcases.

Now that we know the mold is toxic, however, we are trying to see what this country can produce in the way of a qualified inspector. No luck so far. We are just trying to stay ahead of the mold until the dry season starts up in a few months.

Comments

Sunny said…
When we went on R&R from Manila the same thing happened to us. We left and came back to a very large mold problem in the living room. When we complained the embassy was like, "what you didn't leave your air con on for six weeks?"

Good luck fighting the never ending mold problem.
Sunny said…
When we were in Manila we left for R&R for six weeks. Like you we turned off the AC and sure enough there was a mold problem and a large water stain from the AC pipes not working.

When we called the embassy maintenance folks they were like, "why didn't you leave it on for six weeks?" And we were kind like, "because it costs like $1000 and that is crazy-town."

In the end we got rid of the mold but when we left that place the water stain was still there. Good luck with your mold problem.

Popular posts from this blog

The Acid Bug

My blog will now join the short list of results that pop up when you search for "nairobi fly, acid bug" on Google. Mike was hit by one over the weekend.
The Nairobi fly is a small beetle that does not bite or sting, but based on its nickname acid bug, guess what it does? The insides of the bug are toxic, and if you smack it against your skin the juices cause a burning rash. They are common throughout East and Central Africa, and it's the season for them here in Burundi. We think Mike and his friend rode through a swarm of them on their bikes over the weekend, because his friend has some burn spots, too, and the spots appeared on both of them after they returned from the ride.
We've heard of two remedies to soothe the burning, but Mike hasn't tried either yet. One is to use toothpaste, the old-school white kind, and the other is to cut a potato and rub it on the burn area. Both the toothpaste and the potato are supposed to draw out the acid. If you wash the area imm…

What Goes Through My Head When I Lock My Door

When I'm alone in our apartment, or alone with Muffin, I lock the deadbolt, day and night. Here is my thought process:

I'm walking down the hallway toward my door. I nod "Hello" in a neighborly way to a man also walking down the hall. I enter my apartment (having had my key ready since I first got into the elevator because women are conditioned from an early age not to be fumbling for their keys in an area where the distraction of doing so might make them vulnerable to an attack) and close the door. I put my hand on the deadbolt but I don't turn it right away.

What if the guy who just walked by thinks I'm locking it because I'm afraid of him? 

It's not about him specifically, though, it's about being a woman alone in an apartment building. 

So what if he's offended? 

It's none of his business if I lock my door or not, unless he was planning to enter the apartment, in which case fuck him, I did the right thing by locking the door.

I'm a nar…

Book Review: Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

After you've read something, please consider leaving a line or two on Goodreads and Amazon. The authors appreciate it!

Here's my review as it appears on Goodreads.

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really liked this book in the beginning. I grew up in an old haunted house in New England, yet I'm always a skeptic. (99% of supernatural activity ends up being the wind or a cat — and cats are creepy as hell.) I liked reading the stories behind the stories, whether they debunked the legends or gave credence to them. I’ve always been interested in history and nonfiction and ghost stories are the old “fake news.” Entertaining but you shouldn’t necessarily take them at face value. As the book went on, I found the stories themselves no less interesting but the format became tedious.

A couple of the stories really stood out to me. There are many cases of ghost stories being used to control a narrative that makes people feel sa…