Moving south to a supposedly good area of Athens is not reflected in the construction of this home. The latest issue — a furry foe called mold.
To recap our 3.5 months here:
1. Doorbell didn’t work
We bought parts and fixed it at our expense.
2. Toilet had no seat or lid (A first)
The plastic one provided by our landlord for 1.99 broke after one use. We spent 29.00 for a new one and installed it.
3. Fireplace is poorly built and has no flue (A first)
See, “No smoking in the house” for details. Fireplace now sealed off, and the landlord did not appear surprised. Wonder why?
4. Double pane glass is a hoax (A first)
Glass is not fitted to frame on sliding doors and windows. Nothing we can do, it’s just cold and noisy; I sleep with earplugs (a first).
5. Window and door frames not fitted to wall
Big gaps allow breezes from the mountain range to whoosh into the house; bugs, rain, dirt and noise enter at will. I did a lot of caulking, weatherstripping and plugging.
6. Outer doors let in light when closed, so it’s never dark when we sleep
We’d bought and put up drapes, but had to take them down because condensation forms on the cheap uninsulated glass, moistens the drapes and causes mold.
7. No insulation
Landlords told us there is insulation, but it’s a lie. It’s freezing, it’s noisy. See, “How to stay warm in winter” if you have the same issue.
8. OTE installed a “Miracle on Thiseos Street,” but service is shoddy
We live in a “dead zone,” where DSL can blackout at any time and for days. Installation of a new cable was started for us at the beginning of March, but the strikes interrupted that until today. We have a phone number, but it has never worked and we’re still expected to pay our bill; if we don’t pay, we’re required to schedule and pay for another installation after we’re disconnected.
9. The dog downstairs
I love animals, but this is a ridiculous creature. Howls all day, barks at absolutely everything, but runs away if you bum rush him. Some watchdog.
10. The landlords downstairs
Nice people, but bad landlords and their surround sound big screen and stereo leave little to the imagination. Cooking often smells like something died in the building from which there is no escape!
11. Radiator fell off the wall
* Added morning of March 27
12. Kitchen cabinet door fell off
* Added March 28
13. Knob flew off kitchen cabinet
* Added April 18
14. Roof started leaking
* Added November 2008, January 2009
Destroyed: a) Standalone closet we purchased for the living room and everything inside (my shoes, boots, coats, hats, bags); b) kitchen wall against which the food pantry stands; c) second bedroom wall against which the desk (once) stood.
Martin told me there’s a Greek saying that goes something like, “If you don’t praise your house, it will fall on you.” OK, but what if you praise your house, and it’s falling on you anyway? Shall I try cursing? LOL!
Fuzz is not fashionable
On Sunday, I thought I saw some specks on the wall where we’ve placed our bed. Upon closer inspection, it’s mold. Great, another first. More prolific near the ground and sparse as one goes higher, it’s only on one wall, which not coincidentally faces the elements. Fine. I clean it up according to sound advice I found in “Mold Resources” from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Telos, right? Wrong.
Last night I went into my good closet to fish out a tailored suit from my days in New York as a “rich American” and what did I find? More mold. Superb, another first! I make a habit of covering everything expensive with plastic, but other items were not so lucky and covered with fuzz and stinky mildew. The closet wall — also facing the elements — is overrun with big black spots and streaks (like water was running down the wall), and there are water stains on the closet floor. To me, it looks like it’s happened before and was simply cleaned up and painted over for the next unsuspecting tenant…which would be us. We already called the Tenant’s Rights Agency, and it could take months and legal action before anything is done.
At this point, we have two choices:
1. Show it to our landlords, watch them fain ignorance, have them blame us and ask us to pay for it.
2. Show it to our landlords, they’ll promise to fix it and then do nothing, as past history has shown us.
So then we’ll have the choice of:
1. Moving (again), breaking our lease (again), incurring moving costs (again) and losing our deposit (again) *Sigh*
2. Living with discontent landlords downstairs and exposure to spores that could make us repeatedly ill. Woo hoo!
We ended up showing it to our landlords, and they knew about it. They explained that the roof needed to be fixed since before we moved in and they neglected to call anyone, thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal to wait until after winter was over. (Note: Two winters passed and a lot of complaining before anything was finally done, and by that time it was too late to save our health or our possessions for which we were never compensated). They also didn’t feel a need to warn us. Figures.
Fun with fungi
From reading about mold — this must be the “exotic” part of living in Greece everyone keeps telling me about — this is caused by dry wall rot, a leak either in the roof or the plumbing, ill-constructed balconies that tip toward the house and allow water to seep into the concrete and through the walls, excessive humidity in the house or all four. If no repairs or renovations are planned by our landlords, our choices are pretty much a dehumidifier/fan, vigilant and continued cleanings, sandbags and/or a waterproof barrier on the balcony, or moving. For the time being, we’ve moved all of our furniture away from the wall and put lamps/fans in strategic areas to keep them dry.
Living in New York for 2 years and spending a year in Miami — where weathermen use adjectives like, ‘oppressive’ and ‘overbearing’ to describe humidity in those cities — never ruined anything of mine. But non-humid winter weather in Greece molds my walls and wardrobe? Ridiculous. I can think of some other choice words, but I’m trying to keep it PG-13.
So thank you Greece for all of these “firsts” and forcing me to own a tool set since 1999 that both impresses and frightens all the men I know, but I’d rather have one good apartment, hold the mold. Is that really so much to ask?
* Hat tip to Cheryl for providing much needed comedy relief that brought tears to my eyes, including: “If you can’t beat it, wear it” and “Isn’t it nice to smell like a problematic basement?” and “Your landlord should look at his sh!tty house.” My other favorite is not PG-13.