I'm sitting on a bench outside, watching my laundry soak before I get to the dirty business of scrubbing it all clean.
I've been thinking about the differences between doing my laundry here and doing it back in the States, either at home or at UA (you know).
I used to be a terrible procstinator when it came to laundry. I hated doing it with a passion. That seems quite silly here, considering how simple laundry is to do in America. You start the machine, you pour in detergent, add clothes, shut the lid, and go away for forty minutes. Then you come back, open up the machine, remove all your clothes, put them in an adjacent machine, turn that machine on and leave it for an hour. Wah-la, you're done. Sure, occasionally you might have to clean out the lint filter, but generally it's not so much work, especially compared to what I have to do now.
Laundry here starts with fetching water. You need a lot of water to both wash and rinse your clothes. The nearest tap to my current home isn't even in sight. It's about a 1/2 kilometer away. When carrying buckets of water, it feels much farther.
Once you have water, you split it between two buckets (or more, if you're into fabric softener). You pour some washing powder and your clothes into the first bucket and let them soak. Then you scrub. With your bare hands. It's a tough job, and wreaks horror on your skin, but it really gets your clothes clean. Tough stain? Scrub until your knuckles are raw, it'll eventually come out. This process also acts as incentive for keeping your clothes neat and clean while wearing them. I don't play in any puddles here. The consequences are just too painful.
Once the soak and scrub routine is completed, it's time for the rinse cycle. For this, you toss your clothes into the second bucket, swish them around, and then wring them out. South Africans tend to wring their clothes out like their very lives depend on squeezing every drop of water from their clothes, but ever since another volunteer informed me that hanging them up slightly wet reduces the amount of ironing necessary, I've considered myself a member of the "very little wringing" school. It's just less work!
The only problem with this approach comes when trying to hang clothes on the line. Wet clothes are heavy. Sometimes I swear my t-shirts mock my pathetic efforts to suspend them in mid-air using only a few paltry clothespins.
As you can see, laundry day is quite a work-out here, so the next time you have laundry to do and dread, say walking down a flight of stairs in your dorm, consider me, trudging through the Kalahari with a bucket. You'll be done in a few minutes, I'll be out here all day.