Monday, May 21, 2007
When it rains, do laundry
While in Liberia, we function with an ongoing water shortage. The water plant doesn't always pump and our tanks are often low, so laundry is restricted to a load every week or two. If the air conditioning is on and I'm not working in the cargo holds, I can get by on a weekly load. Malfunctioning air conditioning, working in the holds, exercising in the evenings and it's another story altogether.
The good news is that Liberia receives more rainfall than any other West African nation and the rainy season is beginning. Over a month ago a friend bought me a washboard for $5 so that I could do laundry in the rain. It's not the metal type that Grandma used to have, but rather made from heavy, molded plastic. I've been wanting to use it, but so often the rainstorms come during the night. Getting out of bed at 2am or 4am to wash clothing in the rain was not an appealing idea.
Tonight, however, as I looked out the windows during our Mercy at Sea Toastmasters meeting, I could see that the western sky had a golden glow that heralded an approaching storm. Out on promenade deck after the meeting, I saw the blackened eastern sky with occasional waves of lightning. Finally, a rainstorm I could use for doing laundry. Of course, the plastic bin I planned to use was already packed full of my spare toiletries in anticipation of the move to the Africa Mercy in two weeks (I keep up to a year's supply in my cabin). After tossing the shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, contact solution, etc. unceremoniously onto the floor, I threw in a little laundry soap, donned Tevas instead of sneakers, grabbed dirty laundry and washboard and headed out the door to aft deck.
The nice thing about aft deck is that it is covered with a large tarp that provides protection from the sun during the day. When it rains, water cascades through holes placed at various points so that the tarp won't tear (years ago, before the grommets/holes were placed, parents had to do tarp duty to make sure the water was pushed off the tarp before it tore). After several minutes of bucketin' down rain, I figured the tarp was probably pretty clean and thus the water, too. With a little juggling under the holes, I managed to fill my bin. Then in went the washboard and the dirty laundry. Good news is that I only had to do the wash and rinse cycles manually. After that I tossed the clean laundry into the washer for a spin cycle, followed by the dryer. Others found it quite entertaining, but I was just excited that if I washed half my laundry now, I could probably even throw my sheets into my official laundry slot Wednesday morning.
Another exciting thing happening Wednesday morning. At daybreak or thereabouts (0700), the Africa Mercy will finally arrive in Africa. Note, it is the AFRICA Mercy and NOT the African Mercy...no "N" in the name.