Most of us in North America live in a simple house, where there is a definitely split between the inside and the outside. The kitchen, bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms, they’re all enclosed in the house with windows that can be opened to let in some air. This style of house is constructed to deal with our seasons, from the hot summers to the extremely cold in the winters.
With it’s more moderate climate, the Spanish historically have built a different style of house. It’s a house that is exposed to the outdoors, maximizing the space where the inhabitants can spend outside yet remain on their property. After Spanish settlement of Central American in the early 1500s, they applied this housing style by constructing similar houses to go along with Central America’s tropical climate. I was lucky to find a house like this and have the chance to experience this lifestyle.
With this change comes challenges. I have to worry about things that I had never even thought about before. When I leave the house, I cannot leave my computer or other electronics on the kitchen table. A strong wind with some rain can easily soak the table. Bats fly freely at night (I see one every few days or so). Pigeons try to use the space under the roof as a nest. Fruit flies hover around my basket of fruit. And last, but definitely not least, ants take on any opportunity to devour anything sweet.
Little by little, the ants started taking over. If I missed a scrap of mango on the counter, they’d be on it within an hour. And since they’re already here, they then search out other foods. The number one problem I had is finding how to store my sugar. I had purchased a small container that twists on; however, the ants are so small that they still entered and enjoyed the sweet sensation of a full bag of sugar. I purchased another one that seemed more secure. Nope. Almost ready to hand over my sugar forever to the colonization of the ants, Ana, the woman who cleans the commons area of my house once a month, gave me the solution. Something so simple yet something I would’ve never thought of. Put the plastic container holding the sugar into a larger bowl filled with water, creating something like a moat. Ants can’t cross water (obviously). Genius!
I’ve slowly booby-trapping my house. Within the last week, large ants have been going after my bananas and mangos at night. Somehow they actually get through the banana peel. Tough little buggers. Last night, I set up the water technique on a small table holding the fruits. No ants! My fruit is safe. The all-important ketchup, as well.
Poco a poco, little by little, I am learning the ways to this life.