Friday, June 16, 2006

tales from the mold

for those of you that though mold only grew on leftover food – food that you had no intention of eating even as you were putting it in a bowl and covering it with saran wrap and shoving it in the refrigerator only to be discovered a couple months later (or in my mom’s case, for her two children to discover when she gave them the ungodly task of cleaning out the refrigerator back in the day) – you’re wrong. oh sooo wrong.

so i think i already touched upon the fact that i found clothing hanging in my “closet” (what passes for a closet here, at least) that had spots of white mold on them. it’s pretty much found its way to most everything i haven’t washed in the past three weeks or so....making my temper just a little more elevated that it already has been lately – what with being sick and the rain and all that. so that was the first place i discovered mold.

well, i also found it on nearly everything that is in my closet – not even kidding – boxes, shoes, bags. seriously. can it be any grosser than this? wait – before you answer that – let me tell you – it CAN be!

so last saturday (after i just got back from sonsonate to go for my re-examination to make sure i don’t have parasites anymore) i started to get this yuk feeling in my stomach again, and by about 5:00 i was well aware that i didn’t need the lab to call the peace corps and to tell them whether or not i still had parasites – i KNEW that i still had them. i know this sounds like a bad 60’s science fiction movie critiqued on mystery science theater 3000, but the parasites totally returned! but you know, i’m not even going to go into it because it was basically the same sick-to-my-stomach feeling i had before only stronger and more ridiculous. so whatever, after feeling like i was going to die a really slow death, i decided to buck up and not be such a baby about it. so i was trying to clean up my room – find all the moldy grossness and figure out a way to at least prevent it a little – but i’m thinking it’s probably impossible in a country that has a rainy season. anyway, so i was making my bed – i know, why i’m doing this at 5:00 p.m. is beyond me, but somehow, a made bed seems to make a room look neater, doesn’t it? – and i was moving my pillows around and the one that i have against the wall most of the time felt damp and i thought – are you effing kidding me? so i look at it and goddamn if it isn’t wet and then i took the pillowcase off and it’s TOTALLY covered with moldy dark spots and i about vomited on the spot. ugh! thank god it wasn’t the pillow i had been putting my head on every night. so i feel the wall and it’s friggin’ totally wet. see, houses here obviously don’t have siding or anything to prevent moisture from getting in them or anything and so when it has been raining here for two and a half weeks straight, well, water’s pretty much gonna get inside the walls and eventually get into the house or room or whatever. so i’m all pissed off about one of my pillows being infested with mold and i’m trying to figure out what i can do now because i obviously can’t have any part of my bed touching that wall, right? so i pull the bed out and i’m trying to figure out another way to situate things – but you know, there’s really no way to change the room around.

so i think maybe i can use this woven mat that the previous volunteer left for me that’s been rolled up and sitting next to this shelf-thing i have in my room since i moved in.....i haven’t had the occasion to use it. i think maybe i can put that inbetween the bed and the wall and it can at least block the moisture from getting onto the bed. so i pull this thing out and unroll it and like a cruel, cruel joke being played on me to see if i’ve really chilled out at all during this peace corps experience, THIS THING HAS MOLD ON IT TOO! i see these little white fuzzy things all over it on the front, on the back, in the middle. i’m like – how is this happening? this was nowhere near a moisture-covered wall or anything. i wanted to scream. so i sat down on the bed and wondered if this was going to be my snapping point.

oh no, i still had more surprises in store for me. so, as i could hear the rain outside getting STRONGER, i decided – alright, enough of this. i’m going to take a hot shower and pretend none of this just happened and i’ll figure out the solution for the bed situation later. so i went and got my towel that hanging out on the back porch – the only place it stands a rat’s ass chance of getting dry – and i brought it in so i could use it after my shower. so i did that, got out of the shower and got the towel, dried my hair, you know the usual after-shower routine. i put on PJs and i was thinking – ok, i feel better, i can figure out this anti-mold-on-the-bed thing. so i went to hang up my towel on the only clear space on the lines in my room that have all my other clothes on them and i see this white thing on the towel. i looked more closely and what is it? well, i’ll say this – it wasn’t mold. but it was something probably even more gross – if you can imagine that. it was this big, fat disgusting worm that had made it’s re-birthing home on my towel. you know, it was covered with its white substance – i don’t even know what the hell that’s even called in english...oh, a cocoon - so that it could come out a moth or butterfly or whatever. you know what i did after seeing that – i seriously for real threw up. i’m sure some of it had to do with the fact that i was still sick, but part of it definitely had to do with the thought that i was just wrapping this towel around my body and drying my hair with it and all that. and the whole time there was this wriggling worm probably hanging on for dear life inside its little temporary home.

and, as if things could NOT get any worse, i then got a cold. and at the time when i went into my peace corps medical kit to get some much needed cough drops - as my throat was on FIRE - i found every single one of them to be a moldy, mushy, cherry-flavored mess. mmmmm...cough drops that give you every ounce of their strength at one time so you feel like you´ve just swallowed a liter of gasoline. good times.

seriously – this is my life right now. i have newspaper and plastic taped (TAPED) to the wall behind my bed in some lame attempt to keep mold away from my bed. i had to buy another towel because the thought of using that other one just really makes my stomach turn – although i’ll probably still keep it and use it once the image of seeing that worm goes away. seriously, please people, do NOT take for granted the fact that you have a dry place to lay your head at night.

some good things have come to pass though – i found someone to wash my clothes for me, so i think i’ll just throw that gross towel with my load of clothes and i’ll let her deal with it. i bought a fan and it has turned out to be the best thing i’ve ever purchased in my life – my pants i lamely tried to wash on friday (before the woman who is now going to be washing my clothes stepped in and basically told me i was doing a really crappy job of washing my pants and finished them for me) were actually dry by mid-day sunday. also the fan drowns out the sound of the crazy loud insects (that i found out are NOT cockroaches – thank god, but grios that live either in the ceiling or the floor) and about half the sound of roberto’s insanely loud truck. i also got a pair of oh-so-pretty rubber boots to wear while i’m working in the huertos – which may or may not survive after this bout of rain. i went to sonsonate to buy the fan and the boots and antonio came with me and we went into this shoe place and the woman there could not understand that i was the person that wanted the rubber boots and not antonio. no joke! i told her what size i wanted and she went and got the boots and brought them to antonio and i’m like – uh, no, hello, over here – ME!

when i was in sonsonate, though, i did get to visit this church called la iglesia de san antonio del monte and it’s this church that everyone comes to visit that is supposed to be the church of miracles. it’s a really low-key church, with a really beautiful mural painted near the ceiling towards the front. it also has this other painting of san antonio in the front of the church. out front there are all these market vendors that sell candles that you can buy and take them into the church and you know, pray for some kind of miracle – like your sick grandma, or yourself, or whatever it is you want help with. then, around back, there is this area that you climb these steps up to and it’s got this wall of all these letters and paintings and signs from people over the years that have had their prayers answered – saying thank you to san antonio for answering their prayers. isn’t there something like this in rome or in italy somewhere? anyway – it was kind of neat to just see all the different ways people expressed their thanks – there were some paintings showing grandpa or mom in the hospital and then on the side, san antonio watching over him. some were just letters on notebook paper. some were wooden signs with just the name of the person and the month/year etched into them. just all kinds of stuff. a favorite was thanks for watching over someone’s daughter, son, father, mother as they made their illegal trip to the united states. some had pictures of the people who were cured or who had their prayers answered accompanying the note of thanks. there was one that made me smile – it said, “gracias san antonio del monte por curando nuestro perro spike.” (thanks for curing our dog spike) and these notes of thanks went all the way back to the 60’s. so that was a nice little diversion to all this other stuff that’s been going on lately.

so we’ll see how the rest of june shapes up. apparently there was some kind of tropical depression hanging over central america (alberto) and this crazy amount of rain fell on the country – especially last week. although, it seemed like apaneca was shrouded in this veil of depression for at least 2 ½ weeks. it´s been way nicer this week was a lot better – blue skies and sunshine – i might be dreaming though. i wonder how long it’s gonna last?


the front of la iglesia san antonio del monte

a beautiful flowering tree outside la iglesia

we were sitting outside waiting for the rain to stop and this dude comes up carrying this. apparently he sets up outside the church with his instant camera and tries to get people (with kids mostly) to have their pictures taken on this donkey? zebra? no idea what it´s supposed to be...something from the equine family.... anyway, it´s actually a good idea for a business here because people are nuts about getting their pictures taken, but not many people have cameras.

the inside of la iglesia during a small service

the inside when it was completely empty

one of the carvings of the stations of the cross inside la iglesia