Today was one of those days…mef dreams chased me and I woke up tired. It is hard to complain though- unlike my friend who bit her own hand thinking it was a troll attacking her, my dreams are just vivid. Interesting even. Just not restful. So I woke up off of one of those where I was teaching an acquaintance of yore (yeah I said yore!) how to swim or something along those lines, and discovered that BushDiva was tackling the bathroom.

The smell of bleach shuffled into the hallway and took my breath away. Even after BD gave the all clear (removed her little index card sign that warned us to keep out) I still waited a while, until the fumes shuffled on.

Sparkling clean (me, not the bathroom, BD is convinced it will take a few rounds to whip it into shape) I emerged from my “shower” with washing on the brain.

Ahh washing, that thing that took me less than 90 minutes (including drying time) back in Oakland is now a perpetual endeavor and an all day affair. Perpetual because it is hot and dusty and I sweat and am stinky. All day because I’m washing by hand.

BD has this all down to a science. She washed all her own clothes in her previous PC incarnation and to see her clothes you would never know they didn’t come from a wash and spin cycle. Mine are less so…not bad but definitely not diva status. I did wash clothes by hand in South Africa- just not for very long. In training my host mother informed me that I was part of the family and that she washed the family’s clothes, and later, I tried…I tried so hard…but Queen, my aunt, kept commenting on how unclean my clean was. And then there was the sheets incident.

Trying to wash a set of full size sheets resulted in a muddy mess and me in tears. After that I hired Queen, retired my bucket and Omo (the world’s best- if most corrosive – laundry detergent), and was all the happier for it.

But here…here I think I will be washing for myself. I haven’t found a compelling reason enough not to and I’m getting the hang of it out of sheer necessity. So this morning I threw some clothes in to soak with some detergent – part one. And after a few hours I followed up with a bar of soap scrubbing all the especially vulnerable areas – think armpits and necklines. Then more soaking. Then comes the rinsing.

Rinsing is hard enough with water coursing over your clothes – it is all the more difficult when the water has receded (as it had by this point in my day) and you are working with a 40 gallon trashcan full of slightly murky water, some buckets, and a pitcher.

Clothes don’t rinse themselves so I rang out each garment and tossed them with a plastic thud, into a clean bucket. Then I poured pitcher after pitcher of clear water into the bucket, swished the clothes around, and waited. Fifteen minutes or so passed and I repeated the process. Once the water looked fairly clear – maybe not Brita filter clear but definitely not Mississippi mud, I moved to the next stage.

Wringing. Wringing is an art form that I am still perfecting. My dad is the pro. When I was little, on those occasions when he would wash my hair, he would also wring it dry. And I do mean dry. My little scalp would be pulled tight across my skull and he managed to coax every last drop of water out while I begged for mercy. He’d be very useful here. Here I find myself wringing within inches of my life. And then I find myself shaking clothes out in front of me with a satisfying snap(a trick I picked up from BD). It is pretty effective and it gives a wonderful cooling sensation as the tiny droplets fall all around you.

You see, Liberia is the second wettest or gets the second most rainfall on earth…something like that (Sierra Leone is apparently number one). That means the air is often pretty pregnant with moisture which can make drying clothes a pretty big hassle (think hanging a towel to dry in New Orleans on a sultry August day and then think wetter). Granted, we are moving quickly into the dry season which is very helpful, but I still need all the help I can get.

Add to this little scenario, we hang our clothes inside our covered and screened patio where there is little direct sun. Seems counterproductive I know, but since Liberia is home to the fly (not sure if it is a mango fly, tsetse fly ,or what precisely) that lays its eggs in wet clothes. When you put those clothes on the eggs latch onto skin, burrow, and later you are host to a wonderful larval pet.

Sound fun? Then I’m telling it wrong or you are one sick monkey! Just know that we hang stuff in the pseudo-outdoors to avoid incubating new friends.

Ok, all shaken out I finally hang and wait.

Waiting on a Sunday requires patience, the ability to sleep, and a good book. Luckily I was in possession of all three at some point. Even so…even with washing and reading and sleeping…today was still a brutal wait for the electricity to come on. Then I could cook (we have an electric stove that is only good after 6pm) and type and…well that is pretty much all of it but still…I was happy to hear the slight buzz that signals power. And a little later we heard the faint rumbling that belies the return of water.

And sure I could have wandered outside today – into the brutal heat that everyone was trying to escape…but that would have required me to eat something to avoid passing out after walking more than five steps. And since I never made that happen I never made it past the yard. Next week for sure.

Thankfully, tomorrow marks the beginning of the week and a return to some semblance of routine and a highly probable week-long trip to Monrovia. Who knows, maybe I can befriend some benevolent INGO/UN person with a washing machine and a soft spot for a schlep in the field.

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1 Comment on one of THOSE sundays

  1. khortni says:

    …Really clean clothes are over rated anyhow… ; ) Love ya cousin!

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