Sunday, February 7, 2016

Third World Laundry Tales

Recently Craig walked out of the bedroom in a weird pair of low cut baggy underwear.  Are these mine???  We both immediately fell on the floor laughing.

We'd been the victims of a bait and switch laundry scam in West End, Honduras!  Upon further examination, he was missing most of his Fruit of the Looms and my underwear drawer seemed a little empty.  Call the policia!  Actually, just drive to Walmart.

Dirty clothes can sometimes be a problem for tourists in a third world country, especially if you're staying up in the hills an expensive cab ride away from the closest lavanderia for a month.

On Isla Mujeres, we grab a  cheap cab to town or walk down the street to drop our clothes at Tim Pho on Juarez.  We return a few hours later to pick up clean dry clothes folded and bagged in a plastic wrapped bundle.  Easy peasy. 

In Bucerias, Mexico, we discovered a laundry where our aging underwear went in and came out looking brand spanking new.  Craig vowed we should return to Bucerias every year to the magic laundry to refresh our dingy whites!

On Ambergris Caye in Belize, it wasn't so easy.  We rode rickety bikes four miles into town to drop our clothes at the only laundry we'd seen on the south end of Middle Street.  Later that day when we arrived back at our cottage three miles north of the bridge exhausted and dripping sweat, the property manager informed us that the maid there gladly did personal laundry onsite for $10 U.S. a load.  LOL

When our lovely property manager checked us into our apartment high on the hill in Roatan, she commented that laundry might be a problem.  She thought there were several in West End, but none that would pick up and deliver.  At the end of our first week with piles of clothes mounting in the wardrobe, I researched the subject on Trip Advisor and made notes on possible lavanderia options in West End. 

We set off down the steep hill the next morning lugging two large bags of dirty clothes to the beach where we waited for a water taxi to pass.  Going to the laundry on Roatan was certainly more of adventure than walking down the street and dropping a bag! 

Fortunately, neighborhood security soon joined us on the walk to make sure we reached the beach with our undies intact.

Down at the dock, a passing panga sighted us and pulled in to help Mama into the boat with her bags of dirty laundry.  On a sad note, Craig's favorite t-shirt pictured here was also a laundry victim this trip.  On our last visit to the lavanderia, probably the same trip as the underwear heist, the valuable t-shirt in question returned home grey(er) than pictured here.

In West End, we dropped by a local dive shop to inquire because I remembered a comment on Trip Advisor about an employee there who picked up dirty laundry and returned it the same day for a fee.  The young girl working the desk looked at me like I was demented.  And yes, I probably am. 

After she quizzed me about where I'd read that information, she directed us down a narrow alley behind the town church to a little lavanderia located in the back end of a smoothie/coffee shop.

Bingo!  The little laundry was conveniently located on Half Moon Bay where we could lunch next door at Dix and walk right into the water to snorkel the reef around this point.

This trip, laundry day definitely fell under the category of it's not the destination, it's the journey.  Actually, the destination pictured here was also quite beautiful.
It's just the outcome of the laundry journey that was a little tawdry.  After seeing Craig in those saggy threadbare underwear, I made him throw the things away and do an immediate search and destroy through his drawers (no pun intended).  My female sensibilities couldn't stomach the idea of someone else's not so tidy whities inhabiting the dresser.
I'll add a little sidebar.  When we were at that rustic bar at the far end of Roatan, Hole in the Wall, a couple pulled up on a barge for lunch.  We exchanged basic pleasantries and found out they had just moved to a house on the water in that area which could only be reached by boat.  I asked her how she liked it.
She replied LAUNDRY was the big problem.  I kept a straight face because I was internally laughing with her, not at her.
She didn't have a wash machine or drier at her remote location, so was forced to handwash all their clothes and hang them on the line to dry.  Since it was rainy season on Roatan nothing ever quite dried, so their clothes were mildewed and quite dingy because she could never thoroughly rinse the detergent from them without a machine.

I felt her pain having washed most of my own clothes by hand in the bathroom sink for a month.  Another cardinal rule in third world travels is never send anything to a laundry you're not prepared to have destroyed.  Craig's clothes could be destroyed, but not mine!  LOL
No laundry post would be complete without a clothesline photo.  Here's the bar clothesline at Hole in the Wall.

 The trials of third world laundry day!



Diane Daniel said...

Did you know that tim pho is clothes washing in Mayan? A taxista told us this one day as we were pulling up. He thought it was hilarious that the name was Lavanderia Tim Pho = laundry laundry...

Life's a Beach! said...

Diane, a taxi driver once gave me the same explanation on my way into town. LOL It might be the same guy. For years, I always gave them Tim Pho as a dropoff location when I was headed into Centro at night to eat. Before that taxi ride, I assumed Tim Pho was a Chinese guy who owned the laundry! I wondered how the heck he ended up on Isla Mujeres!

norm said...

My wife takes her old stuff when we go south and just figures on it disappearing. We have a policy of giving most of our clothes away before we get on the bird home just to have room in our bags for the gifts for the kids.