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).
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?