Living with mildew and rust

When I moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1991 I didn’t know about the mildew and rust. I moved to a tiny apartment very close to the beach. It was quite humid, especially with the maresia (sea spray) in the air.

Now keep in mind that I’m no stranger to mildew and rust. I grew up in a house in Connecticut that was built into the side of a hill, and our downstairs was like a damp cave. But I’d never seen the likes of what I saw when I moved to Rio.

The first thing I learned was not to buy anything made of metal unless it was aluminum or stainless steel. Everything else disintegrated into a pile of rust in a very short time, unless it was small enough to store in a well-sealed plastic bag. I discovered that washcloths mildewed (maybe that’s why Brazilians don’t use them), and the cellulose sponges that I’d brought from the USA, too. Sponges here are those frustrating plastic ones that really don’t absorb anything, so I took to using rags (which also mildewed).images

The real shocker was when I opened my closet to take out my winter clothes and discovered everything covered with mildew! I had to wash every item thoroughly, and then I bought a bunch of those little anti-mildew thingies and put them inside the closet.

But as time went on, I started to adjust. I discovered that if I left the closet doors open a crack, there would be no mildew. I bought anti-mildew towels. Metal lamps were replaced with plastic or wooden ones.

Sound like a pain? Well, yes, but there are compensations. First of all, the beach is close enough so that the wonderful ocean smell drifts in my windows. And the damp air is great for my skin. And best of all, I’m in Rio de Janeiro—what more could I ask for?

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Living with mildew and rust

  1. Antimildew towels? Didn’t know there was such a thing! Winter clothes? How cold does it ever get down there?
    Reminds me of a vacation in Cape May NJ years and years ago. The kids were little and motels expensive (relative to our bank account) so we stayed in one of the stately old houses the owners converted to B&Bs of sorts. But they were right on the waterfront and musty and mildewy!!!!!! My compensation then was the beach and the house owner who fell in love with my children and babysat them so my husband and I could go out at night!
    This post left me wanting more…why you couldn’t want more for instance.
    People who are new to your posts/book/blogs won’t know why you love Rio so much.

  2. Thanks for the suggestion, Pam…I will write more about Rio, I promise!
    As for the winter clothes, it gets pretty chilly here sometimes…it’s been known to drop into the 50s and even 40s on occasion, and there’s no central heating. So people wear coats, hats, scarves and gloves here, too! I do have a little oil heater, I’m grateful to say.

  3. Libby Unwin

    We have that here in Galloway, NJ only because it is very humid. It is ocean related but not the spray itself. I’m 20 miles inland!! we had lots of that after Sandy flooding everywhere near the ocean. Very expensive and unpleasant.

  4. Wow, I’m surprised you get that being so far from the ocean!

  5. You need a new product… Mil-Don’t. I will start work immediately. My idea is to coat everything that could mildew with a coating of yellow mustard. The acid in the mustard will keep down the mildew. Works best on yellow clothes. Or.. clothes that you WANT to be yellow.

    • lolololol!!! I think I’ll pass, Pat! 😀

      • Another failed concept by the Irish inventor!! ::::sigh::::. I actually learned of this idea while eating a hot dog at a stand-up restaurant on Mass Avenue just minutes before making a presentation to the CS Board of Directors. Quick summary: Hot Dog delicious. Overeager eater squeezed too hard. Hot dog escaped and spread a large trail of mustard down front of brown suit coat as it made its way to the floor.

        Presentation consisted of several slides and Irish inventor holding clipboard, papers, hands, anything handy over about 3 feet of mustard stain trying to avoid detection by said astute Board members. Board was polite. No mention of clumsiness of presentor.

        Outcome: successful. Experiment proved that mustard prevented any mildew from growing on brown suit.

        True story.

        Former Hot Dog Eater

  6. Oh Pat, that is too funny! I can just see you maneuvering your clipboard, et al! OK, I’m convinced…mustard works! lol

  7. What a GREAT life you have! Kudos for daring to be different. My husband’s parents lived in Rio for two years when his dad taught at the university…I’ve never been and want to go!

    • Hi Cindy…actually I don’t feel very daring! I’ve always felt different, though…guess it’s one of those things you just can’t help! Come to Rio, yes! But wait until the World Cup is over. 🙂

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