Thursday, June 10, 2010

Namibian Laundry Mat

photo of the house we are staying at in town with Elton's Aunt Netsai while we build
So since we don't have a laundry mat or a washing machine where we are staying now, this week I've had to learn to wash clothes by hand. I don't know how many of you done this in any great abundance (except for maybe my peace corp friends), but man, is it hard work. It makes me evaluate ever piece of clothes... is it really dirty? Can't I wear it just one more day? And with a baby, it's 10 times worse because she has to change numerous times a day and usually so do I because she likes to spit up on both of us. I've washed the occasional pair of underwear or t-shirt in a pinch, but never whole loads of laundry for three people.

It basically involves using some sort of bucket or tub. You boil water. Pour it in the tub with some some powdered soap so the soap will dissolve and then add cold water so you don't melt your skin off. In goes the clothes, you swish them around and start scrubbing. You take the clothes in your hand and rub the knuckles of your right hand against the wrist of your left hand. When it is clean, wring it out, put it aside. When you are finished washing everything, fill the basin again and rinse. Its not the scrubbing that is a problem for me, its wringing them out. Quincy's clothes are no problem, but for the adult clothes or blankets, towels, sheets, etc. my hands are SO not strong enough. Having suffered from carpel tunnel syndrome in my office work days, I think I am at a disadvantage. I'm praying that over time I'll grow stronger.

Today is my third time in less than a week and I think I'm finally getting the hang of it. Though the funny thing is its quite a spectacle for people to see a white woman hand washing. Its like Barnum and Baileys has come to town. Very few people have said anything but I have gotten a lot of stares. After finishing what has been the largest load I've done since being here, I stood back and admired my work with a sense of accomplishment. Now if I could just figure out how to light this Namibian wood, I wouldn't be starving my husband. Fortunately his auntie we are staying with a great cook. Maybe I should have been a girl scout or something?
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1 comment:

MGBR said...

You have small hands. My big meaty paws would probably take to wringing quite nicely. But I'm glad they don't have to. I have, however, taken to hanging laundry out to dry -- finally! Only took me 14 years.