I have been in Kenya a little over a week. Today is Saturday so I did my laundry first thing when I woke up. In America when a person says ‘I’m doing the laundry’ that means going to a washing machine, depositing the clothes and soap, and walking away so the machine can do the laundry. We aren’t ‘doing the laundry’ at all.
Today I did three loads of laundry. Bucket one was underwear, bucket two was T-shirts, and bucket three was socks. I am nothing if not orderly. It took me one and a half hours, from start to completed-line-full-of-laundry.
I have never done my laundry in a bucket. I worked in the tub, where I had water. I have no water in my kitchen sink. Since water is scarce, I was sparing. I enjoyed kneeling on the floor and leaning over the tub and using my arm as the agitator in the bucket. I thought, ‘that’s my job’, to agitate the laundry. The first load I agitated for about 7 minutes, and by then I was sweating. It took effort. The socks were not agitated nearly as long. I let them soak instead.
After rinsing and agitating (3 times) and ringing out the undies, I was ready for the next two loads. Rinsing was harder than I thought as well. There always still seemed to be soap. Note: Use less soap next time.
I excel at hanging laundry on the line. My mother raised me well. We always had laundry on the line at our house growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and with 6 children, you had to chip in. My mother taught me well, to hang from the seams, from the edges, in an orderly fashion. I remember countless times being sent running out of the house quickly to take down the dry laundry as an unexpected summer rain shower arrived. You can never leave your laundry out over night. There was a right and a wrong way. I bought plastic clothes-pins at the store last weekend so I would be ready for this.
A large bird joined me as I hung the laundry. He walked around the edge of the yard. I loved that bird. He had large unblinking eyes, a red beak, and glossy-mossy green feathers on his wings. His wing-span was probably 3 feet. He was a bird I would only see in a zoo in America. I love being in Kenya. I had company.
I look forward to removing the laundry from the line later today, hoping that it smells as fresh and wind blown and sun-drenched as I remember from all the laundry my Mom did for me in Kenmore, New York when I was little.