Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Clotheslines … Now and Then

I’m guessing that many people of my generation and older remembers hanging the laundry outside to dry on the clothesline when we were kids.  My family got a clothes dryer when I was around 10 years old, so it’s been almost 50 years since I’ve hung clothes outside to dry.  Just like riding a bicycle, it can all come back pretty fast.  The first couple of weeks in SA, our host family took care of laundry, so we’d arrive home from class to a stack of freshly washed and dried clothes … lucky us!!  Most recently, however, I have assumed responsibility of doing our own laundry.  Note that it’s me doing this, not John.  In SA culture, it is not acceptable for a married man to be involved in doing any part of the laundry.  A man would lose respect and the wife would be considered to be a bad and domineering woman.  I don’t mind doing the laundry, but John does find it a bit frustrating as it is a rather long and laborious chore and he wants to be able to help.  (We have since learned that it’s somewhat “okay” for a man to wash his own clothes, so now we somewhat split the chore and each do our own. Yeah!) 

 Notice how close the pit toilet is on the left... convenient, no???

Last week, washing clothes was actually done in a machine. However, since running water is generally not available between the hours of 9am and 10pm (another subject I’ll write about later), we have to add buckets of water to the machine at the beginning of the wash and rinse cycles.  Fortunately, John was “allowed” to help with this part.  Having to add water to the machine is only a small nuisance compared to washing everything by hand, which I have done a few times now.  Just imagine washing bed sheets and/or jeans by hand … ugh!

While hanging laundry, I have flashbacks about doing this at home in Alabama when I was young and at a time when I could barely reach the clothesline.  Hanging sheets was particularly cumbersome and would often require some assistance.  And of course, we always had to keep our eyes on the weather.  An unexpected rain shower would result in everyone dropping whatever we were doing to run out and gather the laundry before it got soaked.  This is not a problem here in SA for now.  Have seen rain only once and for only 5 minutes or so since we arrived about 7 weeks ago. The end of this month marks the beginning of the rainy season which will complicate doing laundry amongst other things.

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