One knot in the clear finish of life at the edge of the Ocean is termites.
Here at Casa La Punta Es and all of Puerto Escondido the termites are endemic. A cannonade of these bugs were here before us. Our beach casa came with a lot of pine furniture. We are not sure what the previous owner was thinking because soft pine is a consistent treat for these wood recyclers.
They are quite simply insuperable when owning anything of wood including but not limited to picture frames, books and doors: for example:
Three Years Ago This Was a Regular Looking Door
The Calypso Couple came to the beach as neophytes when it comes to termite experience having lived most of our lives in arid climes. Of course everyone has heard of these insects, but truly their ability to rapidly destroy wood is quite amazing to experience. Clean a sawdust pile from the base of a table leg only to find a still more heaping handful from their handiwork the next day.
A nice stout china cabinet was a feature of buying our beach chateau. It represented a reparation to the battle of hammering out a deal. But alas in short order we had to sadly cut the cabinet up in garbage collection sized pieces to remove it and the insect city within. As we pieced it out it was amazing to see the tubular paths winding within the thin cellulose remains of that fine cabinet.
Disappointed to be losing all the pine furniture we went on a mission to learn how we might battle these bugs. According to Wikipedia we read:
“As eusocial insects, termites live in colonies that, at maturity, number from several hundred to several million individuals. Colonies use decentralised, self-organised systems of activity guided by swarm intelligence which exploit food sources and environments unavailable to any single insect acting alone. A typical colony contains nymphs (semimature young), workers, soldiers, and reproductive individuals of both sexes, sometimes containing several egg-laying queens.”
SWARM INTELLIGENCE! OMG this was starting to take on the flavor of Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. We were under attack!
In the end we felt one needs to accept the vagaries of termites at the beach if we are to be happy here. So we started to convert everything wood to plastic and metals (which have their own susceptibilities to the beach climate).
All this while remaining wood lovers – especially me. Mostly known to the Calypsos in hearsay and cartoons termites soon became a total vexation.
Eventually we learned about some hardwoods that were termite resistant, even perhaps impervious to the critters. High on the list of surviving madera was Parota wood, described as “A poor man’s Koa Wood.”
We checked into Parota finding there were few if any poor men that could afford the stuff! Nothing was falling down. We tried to ignore the problem. Now in our third year here the framework around the side door which as is often the case is our principal entry portal was alarmingly exposed to rot (see top photo). Atop our things to do to the casa punch list became a new door and frame – side door.
Our neighbor Fernando who recently built some beautiful apartments contiguous to our property (short-term rentals – contact us for more information on availability) had some beautiful woodwork done there. We inquired as to who did the woodwork.
That tied us into Primitivo Soriano; better known as Tivo. A wood craftsman with a good reputation in our area.
Tivo came out and assessed all of our six wood doors (we have inside and out) as well as surveying our cabinets, tables and chairs etc.
One of two nice pine armoires that were here was on our list as the next item to be deconstructed for garbage pickup. Tivo declared it to be salvageable – for a price. Money was rapidly becoming a ‘price is no object’ condition – we wanted the bugs GONE!
With Tivo we prioritized the mission to eliminate termites! First would be the entry door, then the frame around the front door, then the munched armoire. The list started to grow and ‘price is no object’ started to swing back towards reality (you know how that pendulum sways).
Saturday the first item from our agreed upon list arrived for installation.
Undeniably Lovely Grained Parota
Three hours with Tivo and assistant working finally achieved door number one.
If you are moving to any of the fine beaches of Mexico consider termites; the bottom-line. Stay Tuned for more to this story.