Friday, Jul 14, 2017
Climate Change Is My Reality
I’ve been meaning to write what the climate, and its implications, are like where I live now on the coast. Today’s Ecuador blog post is that day.
I think the stretch of coast from Puerto Lopez to Valdivia has a micro climate creating different weather than what is experienced to the far south peninsula of Salinas or the far north one of dBahiae Caraquez. I think the biggest climate difference here is more moisture and less sun, at least at certain times of the year.
Our Own Micro Climate
Whether it’s caused from the confluence of currents directly off the coastline, or the mountains that sit very near the beach, the climate has a lot of moisture here. When I say a lot I mean it is often times “raining” inside our house. It is important to understand that we are only a couple hundred feet from the beach and our screen windows and doors are constantly open, so whatever is happening in the air outside is pretty much happening inside.
We have AC in two of the three bedrooms, but that’s it. So in the “dry” months when it is full sun and very hot, it is the breeze off the ocean that provides us any “cool” air in the largest part of the house. I have to admit that the breeze off the Pacific is something I so appreciate! It smells good, feels great, and I am so grateful to be able to look out over the blue ocean from where it comes from. For me, it’s a true paradise experience.
You Don’t Need a Cloud for It to Rain
But I digressed; back to the climate moisture. The floor fans that we have, running continuously during this time of the year, regularly have water droplets falling from the grates encasing the fan blades. So even though it is hotter than blazes, the air is heavy with moisture. At first I didn’t notice the droplets coming off the fan, but would only see very small accumulations of water, which for whatever reason had a yellow tinge to it, on the floor. We have geckos (I’ll get to that in a minute) in and out of the house so I thought they were peeing on the floor! But no, just inside “rain”.
Sunny Skies, Until It’s Not
We moved here the first part of March and it was blue sky and sunny almost every day. It did cloud up in the late afternoon or after sunset, and at times we had a very light rain in the middle of the night. It would stop by the time I was up in the morning and our deck was almost completely dry. If you have been following my blog you know that me and the fam like to work out in the mornings on the deck.
During March, April, and part of May this was no problem. In fact we needed to start by about 7 am because soon after that the sun was scorching. I love heat, so in my world this was ok with me, but Heidi likes it much cooler. Still, we all managed to do what we needed to stay cool during this time. Heidi often read in the bedroom, with door shut and AC on full blast, and I would opt for jumping in the ocean waves.
This weather began to change in May. The sky became heavy with clouds for the better part of the day, and it would often rain. The temperature cooled down as well. June was even worse with clouds and rain nearly every single day, and not a light rain either, but full on downpours. This area is known to do this, but from people who have lived here many years, I’m told the cloudy and rainy weather has come a couple of months early. Now, two weeks into July, this same weather pattern has continued.
Mold and Mildew
By the end of June, we noticed something different. We discovered with so much moisture, cooler temperatures, and no sun for days on days, it creates a mildew mess! Heidi went to put on a black skirt and it was now green and black. Shoes, like our flip-flops, sandals, and tennis shoes that we don’t wear every day, have gone moldy. It goes beyond just our clothes.
The curtain fabrics are speckled with black mildew. The fabric of our chairs has developed mildew tracks. In the kitchen we discovered our tea bags, which were kept in a plastic tote, had mildew on them. The plastic lids on our spice containers are turning black with mildew. It is a constant battle wiping mildew off the rubber seal of the refrigerator door. All of this happened at the end of June.
Of course none of this is the end of the world. We can wash our clothes, as well as the curtains. The mildew wipes quickly off the plastic lids, and although it’s harder, off the refrigerator seal too. The chair fabric may be a challenge, but we will figure that out. We could have several more months of this so I have got to figure out how to make friends with it and not go nuts in the process.
Adjustments are required. Exercising on the terrace almost never happens now because it is either raining, or when it isn’t, the tiles are wet. I have learned how to exercise in the house. Running on the beach often requires it be done in the rain. Although it’s wet, it’s never really cold. The temperatures are in the low 70s, and I have come to appreciate the cooler weather when I am running…barefoot without my moldy tennis shoes. 😉
Everything rusts here. Stainless isn’t supposed to, but often time it does. Obviously it is poor quality stainless. I discovered something interesting about our Teflon baking sheets and pans. Some of them are “bubbling” and when the Teflon flakes off, there is rust! Our refrigerator accumulates water on its top from moisture in the air, and it is rusting. The metal grate-covers of our white floor fans are now more brown than white. 100% plastic is the way it has to be done in the future.
Bugs and Critters
Because this part of the coast is heavy with vegetation, I find a lot more bugs and critters living here than when I was in Bahia.
I have come to accept that geckos are just a part of life. They get in the house and live in the cracks and crevices of the ceiling joists. They do eat insects, so on one hand that’s good. On the other hand, they poop from the ceiling, and every morning I am sweeping it up off the tile floors. By the way have you ever heard a gecko…geck? (What would you call their sound?) For a creature only a few inches long it makes a very loud chirp-like sound. Initially I mistook these sounds for birds outside my windows.
Since I have lived here we have had one or two flying cricket explosions. No matter how hard we tried to keep them out, a few found their way inside. This wasn’t so bad when I could see them, catch them, and throw them back outside. When, however, they would get behind the stove or a piece of bedroom furniture and chirp all night, I thought I was going to lose my mind. It seems that crickets commit suicide at some point in their life cycle because they rush to the waterline at the beach and drown. During their two week explosion the beach was covered with them.
Chickens and Crickets
I do have to say they did provide a certain level of entertainment. In May, when Heidi was in the States, I spent some time at my favorite beach bar. As I sat on the beach drinking a beer and enjoying the sunshine (yes it was sunny then), I got to watch the local chickens run around the beach chasing and eating the hopping crickets. And yes, they did look like they were running around “like a chicken with its head cut off”. 😉
Lately we have had an influx of honey bees. They are thick around the Tiendas and the merchants are forever trying to keep them off all the fruit. They show up at our house too, and they do get in. I like honey bees though so I’m not too aggressive with them. Eventually they find their way out.
Realities of Beach Living
Living directly on the beach has been a dream of mine for a very, very long time. Living here has shown me realities that I couldn’t appreciate until now. I think the benefits of living on the beach still far out weigh these problems, but I feel wiser now. If I buy or build, I know firsthand the maintenance likely to be required because of this climate. No matter how hard you try, the environment here takes a heavy toll on materials. More importantly though, I recognize that careful thought and planning before hand can save a whole lot of headache later.
“Mama” and Me
I hadn’t seen the dog we named “Mama” for quite a while. Recently however she has returned to her afternoon visits on our deck. When she first showed up I didn’t see her standing at the door, but she could see me. She started whining loudly and when I looked over she was just staring at me with her tongue out.
I went out and gave her some pats and rubs. When I came back in she laid down outside the door for a bit and then eventually went on her way. This seems to be her routine now, and she visits Heidi and I a few times a week.
Speaking of my wonderful wife Heidi, I got to eat a really great pizza she cooked up the other night. She made a low carb crust, covered it with seasoned meat and plenty of vegetables, then topped it with cheese. It was a real treat! How great is it to eat homemade pizza, while looking out over the ocean and watching the waves…even if it is cloudy and gray.
Living in Ecuador is pretty damn good.