Wednesday, April 1, 2009

missing: maytag

Recently I found myself longing for those late Saturday mornings when I would load up two weeks worth of laundry and drive over to the laundromat off of Broadway Ave. in Northeast Minneapolis. After stuffing three machines full of quarters and dirty clothes, I'd sit and work on a crossword puzzle, read the Startribune, or talk on the phone.  Looking back, that once dreaded chore now seems like a guilty pleasure!

My "washing machine"--the first cycle is to wet the clothes in a bucket.

There is no avoiding the fact--anywhere I find myself in the world, I despise doing laundry.  And here in Bolivia, where each article of clothing, bedding, kitchen and bathroom towels, etc., is washed individually, by hand, I am especially laundra-phobic.

The first time I did laundry here I wasn't quite sure what to do with the bar of soap and scrub brush I found in the laundry area of the Volunteer House.  And, truth be told, with more than two and a half years of Bolivian campo-living experience under my belt and some pointers from the locals, I still haven't mastered the art of effectively washing any fabric-based product by hand. (Though, I have learned to keep sweatshirts and sweatpants out of my wardrobe--saturated with water, they are heavy and impossible to wring out!)

Students aprovechar a nice day to wash clothes at the campus "laundromat."

Really, I have nothing to complain about; I only have to do my own laundry.  Comparatively, my Carmen Pampa counterparts with two or three or more children, wash laundry for the entire household.  "You must be doing laundry all the time," I said incredulously when I came upon my friends Dani and Fico, parents of two very active (read: dirty!) children, doing laundry outside their home.  Unsurprisingly, "Sí!" was their unanimous response. 

And just when one thinks the never-ending chore can't get any worse, along comes the rainy season!  Torrential evening downpours or mid-afternoon sprinkles make way for forever wet and/or musty smelling clothes. Which is why on those glorious, sun-drenched Monday afternoons when many students have the day free, articles of clothing can be found draped all over campus.

Clothes hangs out to dry on hedges, rocks, and railings on Campus Leahy.  The recent excavation of land for the building of the new women's dormitory eliminated more than half of the clothes lines where students previously hung their things to dry.

Living in Bolivia is a good reminder that we can, in fact, live without all the modern conveniences that we've come to call "necessities."  Life does go on without toasters, televisions, microwaves, vacuums, and dishwashers.  ...But IF I got to choose just one luxury, it'd be an easy pick.  Oh, Maytag man!


kirstan castro said...

have you turned your socks green accidentally forgetting them in the "pre-soak" cycle?

sarah mechtenberg said...

a question that only someone who knows from personal experience would ask! :)

Nathan K said...

In India they taught me to 'beat' the clothing by swinging each item against a rock. Good for stress relief but i found it ended up more dirty and i was always in danger of losing in eye. In truth, like in Bolivia, the washing never went much further than the 'pre-soak'...the shame!