When Jonathan and I first were married and lived in Illinois for 6 months before moving to Mexico, I went to the laundry mat every Thursday to do our wash. It cost about $10 maybe $12 a week to wash and dry our normal three loads. We used our change tips from Cracker Barrel so it never really affected the budget as we never counted our change tips. I didn't thoroughly enjoy hauling all our laundry from the apartment into our car, driving down a few streets, hauling it all into the building and sitting there awaiting the bell signal telling me I could go back home. But with coffee brewed and a plethora of magazines, I made the best of it.... often chatting on the phone to my mom or best friend.
Upon moving to Mexico, we were delightful to find that there was a washer and dryer on the same floor as the small apartment we were renting. It meant braving the wind and sometimes rain to go change around our clothes, but it beat hauling to the laundry mat for sure. I did laundry every Friday.
Then, when we moved to SC, a thoughtful friend offered us a washer and dryer for free about a month after we moved into our apartment. I thought I was in heaven. A real, working set of laundry appliances there in my own home.... I couldn't believe it. And I appreciateded them because I had spent two years doing without. I was sad to say goodbye, but thankful we could pass them along to my brother and SIL when we left.
We got to Kenya in January and quickly learned that laundry at Africa Based Orientation was either done by my hands or someone else's. After getting gyped by the laundry lady everyone else was using (I hate getting gyped), we decided to do it on our own. Having never washed more than a barely soiled shirt by hand before, I sat observing how the Kenyan students washed their laundry before we dug into our own filthy, dusty clothes. It was then that I got my first hand-washing blisters. We did hand wash through our home stay and in the village we stayed in for three weeks after that.
Then we moved here where I've had a lady doing our laundry for the past few months. However, knowing how much work it is, I deliberately tried to keep as much out of the weekly wash as I could. I'd be willing to bet there are items of clothing I've been wearing since we got here which have yet to be washed. If it didn't stink, have spaghetti sauce on it, or look like it'd been dragged through the sand box, it went back in the closet. Well, our working relationship didn't go so well (for some reason unbeknownst to me) and the washing lady quit a couple weeks ago. So, I was left to do it myself. I am more convinced than ever that I don't know how the local people here do it. A washing machine here in the capital is no unusual thing, but up in the mountains, and certainly in the villages, all the laundry is done by hand. I can't fathom it, really. My fingers and wrists hurt just doing the little bit I've been doing to keep up over these past few weeks.
I started using cloth diapers two months ago knowing I'd be left to wash them by hand. I certainly wasn't going to add them to the laundry lady's load. So, I (along with my mom and sis while they were here) have been washing, wringing, rinsing, wringing, wringing, wringing diapers for the past two months. I knew going into it I'd be doing it and it wasn't so bad, really. I had my normal routine every night. Regardless, I was desperate for a washing machine.
When a local friend announced she was moving I asked her if she still had her washing machine for sale. She did and I immediately told her I wanted it! It has been sitting in our downstairs for a while now, because there wasn't any easy place to hook it up in the apartment we're living in currently. But, after a little detective work, we found a reasonably simple solution. A failed call to a plumber who tried to charge us out the nose set us back a week or so. Eventually, however, we got in touch with another local missionary who knows all about plumbing. He and Jonathan have spent the past few days working it out and buying the necessary hardware. They installed most of it Sunday and Jonathan finished it up Monday after retrieving a couple more parts from the builder's store.
I am thrilled. I'm totally stoked! I feel like no one loves their washing machine as much as I love mine.... although it's probably not true. The fact that it takes up a large space in the kitchen doesn't bother me a bit. I'm just entertained sitting there watching it swish and swirl my clothes to cleanliness! I'm about to go put some extra pre-paid water on the meter and wash everything in the house!
This is the African me. Can't believe I'm putting this photo into cyberspace.
Now I'm left to wash in the bathtub what the bathtub was purposed for in the first place.