Blame It on the Rain

“It can’t rain all the time.”

If you know what comic-turned-movie that quote comes from without looking it up, then you’ve earned some cool points in my book.

 

No, not The Sandman (I WISH that comic became a movie). The CROW. THE cult classic from the 90's, inspiring thousands of teens to paint their eyes and nails black and call themselves "goth."

No, not The Sandman (I WISH that comic became a movie). The Crow. THE cult classic from the 90’s, inspiring thousands of teens to paint their eyes and nails black and call themselves “goth.”

Okinawa has been really trying to disprove that statement lately. It feels like it’s been raining, nay, at times torrential DOWNPOURING, for days (with a dry day here or there sandwiched between). As if Mother Nature scooped up some ocean and dumped it on island. Oh, I think rainy season has arrived, my dearies.

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Ha, just wait ’til Typhoon Season! Coming soon, to a neighborhood near you!

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So the streets are supposedly extra slippery from the coral added into the roads. I haven’t noticed much difference, but I hear it’s the cause of many accidents, not (ahem!) failing to brake early enough.

We even had some thunder and lightning (rare for Okinawa), and a few tornado warnings, to boot! Nothing that touched down, though.

It’s perfect weather for staying inside, under the covers, napping or curled up with a book.

Ben Franklin was a bit judgey, eh?

Ben Franklin was a bit judge-y, eh?

However, if you do have to go out (hopefully with a raincoat and umbrella), you might get lucky. It might feel cool and refreshing. The way a rainstorm should.

Other times, it’s like you’ve walked into an atmosphere of diluted honey, that leaves a sticky film on your skin. It also makes curly haired people a bit frizzy and frazzled.

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Having poker-straight hair, I don’t have this issue. I just get really shiny. Like pregnancy glow, without the pregnancy.

Like Rain Off A Duck’s Back

And if you do have to go outside in the rain, who says you can’t look fashionable?

photo 1When a region has something called a “rainy season,” it starts to develop all sorts of umbrella styles. In the Naha shopping district, there is an entire store dedicated to umbrellas. Yep, just umbrellas. The variety of umbrella prints in Okinawa puts all others to shame.

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Raincoats. Not just for Bella and her vampires. And who wants to wear a garbage bag when you can roam through the storm in polka dots?

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Even glitter and bows can’t make these shoes look good. But maybe their immense popularity, especially here in Okinawa, has something to do with the drainage holes.

Unwelcome Visitors

The consistently wet, warm weather of late spring brings some visitors to Okinawan homes. Specifically:

Worms. But not cute ones, like these:

I mean, these aren't even gross.

I mean, these aren’t even gross.

And not as delicious as these:

Ohh, if only. Do you think when it rained at the witch's candy house in Hansel and Gretel, that gummy worms came out?

Ohh, if only. Do you think when it rained at the witch’s candy house in Hansel and Gretel, that gummy worms came out of the ground?

Also, cockroaches. BIG ones.

Oh, ok, not really THAT big. EWWW. Can you imagine?

Oh, ok, not really THAT big. EWWW. Can you imagine?

The cockroaches here (that crawl up the drain pipes and into your homes when it gets torrential) are hardy, and don’t have the courtesy to die when you smack or step on them.

cockroach-meme

 

And don’t get me started on the fact that they can fly.

cockroach run fly

Where’s the justice?!

Other not-so-threatening visitors: Geckos, or more specifically, “common house geckos“:

Parent and baby, hunting on the same window. That's right--eat them nasty bugs!

Parent and baby, hunting on the same window. That’s right–eat them nasty bugs!

The worms and chirping geckos I can handle, especially knowing that on this island, I could cross paths with ginormous spiders or, even worse, snakes, like the habu.

 

Sorry, guys, it's nothing personal. Okay, actually it is.

Sorry, guys, it’s nothing personal. Okay, actually it is. You and your kind best stay the hell away from me.

‘Round about this time, everyone is fighting an epic battle with another kind of intruder in their homes:

Mold.

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Nobody’s gonna be kicking it up a notch on this cutting board, except these spores. Emeril would be so disappointed.

Mold and Okinawa go together like zombies and brains–the mold just can’t help appearing when the weather is warm and damp, just like zombies can’t help following delicious, big-brained humans. Don’t think about that analogy too much–there’s not much there.

When the weather warms up in the spring, the mold appears. Especially in bathrooms, but also on any porous material, like leather and fabric and carpet, and even (gasp!) dust. Last spring, mold attacked at least four pairs of my leather shoes, which found a new home in the garbage.

Mold it right there! This could definitely happen if you closed up an Okinawan house for a year or so.

Mold it right there! This could definitely happen if you closed up an Okinawan house for a year or so.

Ugh, gag. If this photo makes your stomach churn the way it does mine, I do apologize. I also didn’t want to be the only one to have to see this nastiness. This is NOT any place I’ve witnessed firsthand, but rather an unfortunate Google search result (what was I thinking?!).

This photo, which can’t be unseen, made my list of “Images that Make Me Want to Bleach My Eyeballs”. And, indeed, mold can make you pretty sick. If you want to awaken new hypochondriac tendencies, read this article.

In my opinion, the mold here is the worst aspect of living in Okinawa. Even more so than not having a 24/7 grocery store or a Chipotle (Oki dwellers–don’t even bring up Tortilla Factory, because it ain’t the same). The latter won’t make me sick or kill me. At least, I don’t think they will.

And if so, I still would die happy.

But if I died because of this, I think I’d still die happy.

Speaking of things that make you sick (I know, it’s a tangent, but considering the fact that it may save your life one day, I think you’ll allow my digression):

There is a particular bug named H. Pylori that a vast majority of Okinawan dwellers contract, without even knowing it. Someone I know contracted it, and had to convince doctors on island (against their will!) to test for it. It’s treatable if it’s found, but it can cause all kinds of major stomach and heart problems (including cancer and death!) if no one knows to look for it. So, it’s not a bad idea to get tested for it before you leave, even if you have to go to an off-base Japanese doctor. Otherwise, you could have stomach problems later in life, and the doctors won’t be able to figure out why.

Not in My House

Enough of the PSA (public service announcement). And back to mold (contain your excitement!). So, everyone has different methods on how to deal. Here are my weapons of choice:

Cedar hangers. They help prevent mold, mildew, and even moths. The trifecta of closet predators.

Cedar hangers. They help prevent mold, mildew, and even moths, the trifecta of closet predators.

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Crystals go in the top bowl, then magically (I mean, scientifically!) absorb the air moisture, leaving the liquid on the bottom of the container. These are great for closets. Just try not to be a klutz like me and spill the liquid all over your stuff when you’re trying to change it out.

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Large moisture-absorbing packets, from the 100 Yen store. Kind of like those bags of silica in your shoe box or beef jerky you’re not supposed to eat, but have always wondered what they taste like. C’mon, you’ve never wondered?

And, the humidity’s so bad, this gets cleaned out every couple of days.

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The dehumidifier, not the bulldog!

Probably the most common method to my mold madness:

I love the smell of bleach in the morning.

I love the smell of bleach in the morning.

Bleach is one of those things that once was commonly used without a second thought, and now is controversial. It’s because of all the chemicals that leach into the environment.

I’m sure I’m a selfish, horrible person for using it as opposed to all natural organic cleaner that costs three times as much, but you know what? Bleach gets rid of the mold better than anything else I’ve tried. I even saw this blog post that used bleach and cotton hair curler thingies to completely get rid of stubborn mold in the bathroom caulking.

The downside to bleach (besides the chemicals and, for sensitive noses, the smell)? If you’re not careful, you’ll do this:

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Overzealous bleaching left a light spot on this rug. If I take a brown permanent marker to it, do you think anyone would notice, besides me?

And if you just can’t get enough of this mold talk (I know, right? Me neither!), you can learn even more about it, and some ways to prevent or control it, in this article.

What are some of your methods for keeping your home and belongings moisture and mold-free?