As I've already explained, Gabon is an extraordinarily humid place. Even during dry season, humidity reaches levels hardly acceptable for a European, while during wet season it might rise up to 80% or more. Clearly, you sweat as you've never sweated before, which accidentally, seems to be good for your skin. However, not all side-effects of equatorial humidity are equally beneficial. Let me tell you a story of how humid air can set you back 100 euro. Or more.
Three months last only a week
The first thing we've noticed was that our wardrobe had a funny... smell. Clothes that we don't wear often enough have a stale, musty odour of your grandma's attic, and, worse still, they tend to cover with mould. You thus have to wash all the contents of your wardrobe quite regularly (another argument for a reduced number of clothes!). We have, however, decided to take certain measures - we would not let our clothes rot away in the closet. Consequently, we have found and purchased a French device which was supposed to keep a space of 40 square metres nice and dry for up to three months. It consists of a plastic recipient, on top of which you place a bag with special crystals, which magically gather all the humidity they are in contact with, and change it into water, which slowly fills the mentioned container. I think it worked rather well, only that the crystal baggy thing lasted a week in our 1 square metre wardrobe. Alas, as the price of such a baggy is nearly 10 euro, we decided to revert to the good old washing machine.
Modern jewellery box
Before leaving Spain (a year and a half ago! can you believe it?) I got a lovely good-luck-in-Africa bracelet from one of my friends. It was made of exotic seeds and I happily brought it with me to Gabon, as part of my new ethnic look. Little did I know that this would be the death and complete destruction of my cherished bracelet. Soon enough, it was eaten by mould and I had no choice but to throw it away. As a result of all this, I was very careful when presented with another ecological bracelet for my birthday this year. I watched it closely and as soon as I saw first signs of mould, I put the bracelet in the... freezer. I only take it out when I want to put it on and the strategy has been working very well. Maybe I should buy a portable freezer and put it in the bedroom?
A movie from a rice bag
Before coming to Gabon, we invested in an external hard drive (the 100 euro I've mentioned) to store our data and, above all, pictures and films. Short before the holidays, the device suddenly stopped working. An IT guy told us it was due to humidity and nothing could be done. And he gave us a recipe for storing electronic devices in extreme weather conditions. Here goes: 1) buy a new hard drive; 2) get a plastic bag with a zip; 3) put some rice in the bag; 4) put the hard drive into the bag and zip it, and finally 5) put the bag in another plastic bag and close it carefully. You think I'm kidding? You think we didn't actually do it? Think again! Also, we're contemplating getting a considerably larger bag filled with some sizable beans, which would fit Jandro's I-only-work-when-I-want laptop and all its attitude.
The above are, of course, only a few examples from our "Gotta Love That Humidity" file. All in all, I must admit that I do prefer finding mould on our clothes to discovering fungus on our heads and... toes. Knees have been spared, for now, thank goodness.