Laundry 101

March 6, 2010 at 6:50 pm 3 comments

If there is a hell, then this is it. I mean, the only way doing laundry could be worse here was if someone were to blast rachera music while I was doing it, which sometimes happens. So I’d thought I’d share with you how I do my laundry so you folks at home can be grateful for the greatest invention, the washing machine.

Hondurans have what is called a pila (pronounced pee-la). It is basically a giant utility sink filled with water with a washboard cemented to the top of it. It’s pretty brilliant, actually. Every volunteer I have talked to wants to build one in their backyards when they go back to the states. It’s a place to put your dirty mops, filthy rags, wash your dog, clean 16 lb turkeys, pot plants, retrive water for a buket-bath when your water system isn’t working, and unfortunately wash clothes. One drawback is that mosquitoes love the stagnant water so it is often a war zone when washing. However, at the Centro de Salud, one can pick up a tan, sand-like substance in a plastic baggie called abate (they pronounce it ah-bah-tay). Poke holes in the bag, drop it into the water, and it kills mosquito larvae. I actually have no idea what it is, although I think it is a pesticide. I don’t ask. All I know is that I don’t want dengue fever (aka break-bone fever).

So, back to washing clothes. I cannot lie to you. There is a drop-off laundromat in my fresa town. However, I use it only for washing sheets and towels. If I didn’t, I think I would buy new towels every time mine was dirty and probably would NEVER change my sheets. They charge 100 lemps for 5 lbs, which isn’t bad. Drop off your clothes, give ’em your number, they call when you it’s ready. So why don’t I use them regularly, you ask? Because there is a Honduran man there that likes to steal my phone number and call me and send me inappropriate text messages, that’s why. *Sigh*,  I can’t  win down here. I digress.

How to wash clothes by hand:

Step 1. Procrastinate doing your laundry until you have an obscene amount of dirty clothes on your floor and you are out of underwear.

Step 2. Swear, then gather up your clothes and your Ipod.

Step 3. Place clothes in a large bucket with water and laundry detergent to soak.

Step 4. Place hands in bucket and swish clothes around like a washing machine would (it looks like a really bad dance move).

Step 5. Pick an article of clothing out of the bucket and place onto the washboard. Roll what is called a jabon stick over article of clothing to add extra soap if necessary.

Step 6. Scrub the shit out of your clothing on the wash board (mine is made of concrete, which is why I have holes in everything I wear).

Step 7. Rinse off said article of clothing with a bowl (called a pana) of water from the pila until suds are gone.

Step 8. Wring out and hang up to dry on the clothesline.

Step 9. Repeat until finished.

And somehow, all of my clothes still end up dirty and soapy when dry. And I end up wet and angry and tired.

I want you all to now go down into your basements, laundry rooms, or your local laundromat, and give your washing machine a pat on the back, maybe even a hug.


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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Karen  |  March 7, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Very funny post. My son was PC Honduras when I visited him in 2000. I’m currently serving in Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. I will now go out to my balcony and give my semi-automatic washing machine that I used to think of as a nightmare (until I read your post) a big fat hug.

    Take care,

    • 2. kathryn422  |  March 9, 2010 at 8:20 am

      Where was your son located? That is really neat! I’m sure the Caribbean has its frustrations too. I bet it’s sweltering where you are at (I can’t complain here, I am in a cool mountain town). Well my fellow PCV, keep on keeping on!

  • 3. Courtney  |  March 8, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    I lived in Honduras for a while. After a while, doing laundry will be a rewarding experience, i promise. All the elbow grease you have to use with the pila is worth it. At least you know your clothes are really clean, for the most part!


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