It's not something that's talked about much, but after living here for a period of time it becomes evident. Well, one thing you notice is that the construction of the homes and apartments of friends, although, it is to a high standard in other respects, is faulty in one thing. It's not evident right away. But then, you start noticing it.
It's just a little bit at first. But then it spreads. It's mold! Green mold and some black mold. You clean it, and you clean it, but it keeps coming back. Why is this happening? After several conversations with landlords, the solution that keeps cropping up is "open the windows".
This is mold in our home in the kitchen cupboards and drawers just a few weeks after we cleaned it with bleach! And it came back that fast! Click on photos to get a better view.
As long time followers of this blog know, we're not hot enough here in Cuenca to open the windows on a regular i.e. daily basis. Well, we cleaned up all the mold and have been opening the windows almost every day. It's easy to do when the sun is shining and it's warm out. But those consecutive days without sunshine are the hardest to do. Even with the windows open the mold comes back, just not as fast, so having the windows open does help to keep the mold at bay a bit longer.
After a bit of reflection it is apparent that the issue is in the construction plan. And here is where it is faulty. There is no allowance for a natural ventilation of the homes. If you don't open the windows, you're stuck in a vacuum. No airflow, at least, not enough to curtail the spread of mold. And this is the source, we believe, of the beginning of health issues.
Again, if it was just us we wouldn't write about it. But it's our friends too. They also notice the constant nasal irritation, and the throaty irritation that just won't go away. None of this ever happened on a chronic basis before moving to Cuenca. Actually it didn't occur at all with us as we're very careful about our health. It's a Cuenca thing at this point, since we've lived here.
However, we have read that respiratory ailments are also an issue at some southern coastal points of Ecuador where apparently it rains all the time.
We're guessing that under very wet conditions and no proper ventilation, the mold issue is too strong to conquer and that's how it causes chronic irritation. This is potentially a very big health risk, especially for older folks and very young children. If you're healthy and strong it's just a chronic small "cold symptom" type of irritation. But for the above mentioned groups it could spread to other parts of the body such as your lungs and become pneumonia. This can potentially become fatal.
Understand we are not trying to discourage anyone moving to or visiting Cuenca. Don't you want to know about the new city you will be living in, even if it is negative? I know that I would want to know everything, not just the good stuff. It's an important issue that people need to be aware of when considering moving to Cuenca or other parts of Ecuador. See it for yourself, when you come even just to visit, take a look at the construction. See any vents in the ceilings, or any attic areas with vents in the walls? Nope and nope.
We understand every one's situation is different, and we think that simple solutions would be very effective, such as:
1. having a wood stove
2. having a fireplace
3. having lots of gas heat
4. having an industrial sized de-humidifier
5. open the windows even though you're cold
This would have the effect of drying out conditions so as to prevent mold coming back again, it's our experience, not an opinion or a guess. Thought you might want to know. We welcome your feedback and questions.