Moldy home, revisited

It’s been a while since I lived in that moldy home, a long time. Since then, I’ve heard stories about that place. I know I am not the only one who fled. The place had a long history of one renter after another who somehow, couldn’t seem to take a liking to Uruguay.  Sadly, the newcomer often concluded that something was “terribly wrong” with the whole country, and returned, shaking his head in disgust, to his home country, perhaps with his tail between his legs. “It didn’t work out.” I am so glad that didn’t happen to me.

Yes, the apartment, if that’s what it was, looked okay at first. Spacious, certainly. I was relieved that it wasn’t a high-rise, in fact, there didn’t seem to be any high-rises anywhere around. That was the last thing I wanted. I dreaded the thought of ever living in a place that resembled an institution again. No, it didn’t look like that. I lived on a dirt road that turned to mud in the winter. Lots and lots of gross mud. But that wasn’t the problem. The problem was the fog.

Yes, we had morning fog outside just like anywhere else all over the planet. I don’t mean that. I mean I had indoors fog. You could see it. Visible fog. I thought it was my imagination at first. Then, I noticed my papers were wet. I noticed after I’d left a half a pill out for Puzzle it had entirely disintegrated due to 100% humidity indoors. Yet it was not 100% humidity outdoors. I realized I couldn’t leave her half-pills out, not even for a few hours. I noticed if I took my clothes off at night and left them by my bed on a chair, they were sopping wet in the morning. When I tried to put my jacket on to go take Puzzle out, it, too, was sopping wet. Yet outside, it wasn’t all foggy and rainy, nor was it that humid. I noticed if I had a dishtowel out, if it was completely dry and hanging, it would get sopping wet all by itself.

It was also quite cold in there, in fact, it was winter and I frequently awoke to temperatures under 50 degrees indoors. To my surprise, it was sometimes colder indoors than out. I learned that high humidity in winter can make a place harder to heat, and can keep the heat from a wood stove from effectively warming an entire space. If it’s too humid, you’ll find it’s only warm around the wood stove and nowhere else.

I also noticed the inside walls were dripping wet, as if they were sweating. Could it be this bad? What’s happening? I mentioned this to the owner who told me to take vitamins for this. I told her that wasn’t the problem and tried to explain again but then I realized she was in denial that anything was seriously wrong with the house. But how could this be? Each night when I went to bed, my entire bed was sopping wet and disgusting.

After a while, within only a couple of weeks in fact, my clothes reeked, every bit of them, down to my underwear. I had to go out shopping, which embarrassed me of course since there was nothing I could wear that didn’t have that dreadful mold odor. It’s not at all the same as mildew odor, it’s ten times more disgusting. I tried to light a fire, and the wood refused to burn since it was wet, but when it finally did, it reeked and made me and my clothes smell ten times worse. Then one day I awoke to find earthworms crawling on my kitchen floor. That was the day I vowed I needed to find a new place.

My friend from abroad did some research online and confirmed: This is called moisture-lock and it’s due to faulty construction. The homes here are made of cheap building materials, not wood, which breathes. If the roof is also impermeable, then you’re in trouble. There must be plenty of windows and sun beating on the house, but not too much sun. The place I was at got no sun whatsoever, had very few windows and was completely sealed. Once the mold sets in, there is little that can remedy the situation. Most owners who rent out places like that paint the walls over again and again trying to make it look nice and cover up the ugly black marks that are clear indications of trouble. The renters never stay long. These landlords continue to get away with renting places to people who leave wondering why they were sick and miserable the entire time.

Feedback and comments welcome!