30 January 2010
I finally made the attempt to do laundry today. Here’s how it worked. And didn’t work. I used two buckets. Elsa and I went halfsies on buckets because they are terribly useful to have, as we’ve found and you can’t be Ghanaian if you don’t have two buckets and two cell phones.
I’m digressing, but you've got to hear about the cell phones, so I’ll get back to laundry in just a sec. It’s true. Most Ghanaians who have phones have two of them. Everyone I ask about this will just say, “In case one of them is off,” as if that made complete sense. I have recently found though, that apparently certain networks work better in different places. Since pay as you go phones are the norm here, it’s not outrageous to simply have one phone with Tigo wireless (which is what I have) and one with MTN. Tangent over.
People do laundry in a number of places, but I decided on our balcony-porch thing. I filled the two buckets with water using the showers and lugged them out to the porch. This gave me a soapy bucket and a rinse bucket. My first look into the buckets was disheartening. I hadn’t so much as dipped a sock in the water, but it was cloudy and brown-ish. This makes me feel super about the showers I’m taking here. I looked away and went to grab my sheets, because I would need them to dry in time for sleeping.
This was probably an intimidating way to start my task. I had never used bar soap to wash clothes before and I feel that the large surface area I had to clean added significantly to my confusion. The buckets are large wastebasket sized. The soap, buckets, water and sheets got into a bit of a tiff and tidal waves of epic proportion ensued. Eep. I warned Elsa that I had done horrid things with the room and that I would clean it up once I felt I was done with my mess making.
Then came drying. My friend Emily lent me some cord to string across my room. (I’ll try to post some pictures on Facebook.) This may seem like a really classy way to decorate a room, but what you may not realize is that if you don’t wring the heck out of the sheets, you will create new bodies of water in your living space. I’m all about puddle jumping of course, but there’s something less satisfying about potentially falling on unforgiving tile. So I did a lot of wringing, which in my opinion is a pretty satisfying task when done well. It leaves a healthy burn in the arms that assures me I will leave Ghana totally jacked. Score.
The water got really gross really quickly. I ended up going through about ten buckets of water before getting fed up with the waste and the feeling that I wasn’t getting anything clean, plus running out of drying room. I decided it was time for a break. I cleaned up, as promised, and went to the Creamy Inn with some friends, who like me, were craving some ice cream.
The Creamy Inn is part of a fill-up (gas) station mart, which also has two for one pizza night on Tuesday at the Pizza Inn area. (There is also a Chicken Inn). What they do not have on the menu, apparently, is ice cream. Here is my theory: Ice cream is a big tourist joke to Ghanaians. They have it on half of the menus here, but they never actually have it in stock. We’ll ask for it and they’ll look at us like we’re crazy for thinking they’d have such a thing. They did actually sell it in cartons here, though, so we got one and split it among the group.
I would like to go to bed now, but my sheets are still wet. I feel that they and my other clothes are gathering massive amounts of dust now, and that nothing really got clean. Looking at my once white computer further confirms this thought. It turns browner every day. That’s pretty much the case with all of my stuff. Not me though! I’m still about as pasty as ever.