Spring in Belize
A princess arrives
Rain and washing
The rainy season has started early here and the rain is unusually heavy, which has positive and negative effects. It means it's getting cooler, but the ground isn't ready to absorb the water yet, so it can get sloppy. The first few rains, things were fine and the cracks in our yard started to swell up and fill in, so you were no longer afraid of turning your ankle every time you went to the washhouse. But then last Thursday we had 3-1/2 inches of rain and lots of thunder and lightening and the storms are continuing daily -- usually in the late afternoon and at night.
So it's getting muddy and there are more bugs in the house. On the other hand, the dogs don't bark as much when it's raining. It apparently has to be a real possibility of an intruder, not just the general joy of being a dog to make you come out from under the porch and raise hell.
My thinking of walking to the washhouse reminds me that I haven't told you about our washing machine and rainy season always brings laundry to mind anyway because it's everywhere all the time trying to get dry. Every verandah has a constant line of it and when the sun comes out, housewives shift it to the open-air line in an attempt to get it dry before the next shower. Every morning you look around to see whose laundry was out overnight and so they have to start all over and you feel sorry for them (or smug that yours wasn't out overnight depending on your mood and tendency. Actually this is a matter for general gossip in some communities.) Generally the only electric dyers are at hotels and resorts, and, like my mother, most Belizeans believe clothes smell better and get cleaner if they dry in the air. So even those who have dryers only use them when absolutely necessary. Of course the humidity here makes it necessary about a thousand times more often than in South Dakota where I grew up.
So, the washing machine. After doing sheets by hand a time or two, you begin to long for one of those wringer washers to help the job along so a few weeks ago Jana announced that we were going washing machine shopping. The appliances here are all pretty much from one of the Asian conglomerates -- Dae Woo or Samsung, not a Westinghouse or Hotpoint anywhere that I've seen. And they're not really washing machines in the sense that we know them in the U.S. Ours cost about BZ $250 (US $125) and is almost all plastic. It has two chambers -- one for washing and rinsing and one for spinning -- and one motor to run them. But a lot of the process is hands-on; the motor just does the hardest parts.
First you put water in the machine with a hose from the faucet as high as you think is good (the hose did not come with the machine and it took us several days to find one), then the soap and clothes and turn the dial to Wash/Rinse. It holds the equivalent of about four double sheets. The washing chamber then rotates back and forth for as long as you choose (up to 15 minutes), but it just sloshes water through the clothes, doesn't have a dasher or whatever the heck you call those central columns in wringer machines. You stop and put the dial on Drain. The water runs out the bottom, doesn't pump out, so the drain has to be lower than the bottom of the machine. Of course, the clothes are still sopping wet and covered with soapsuds when they're finished draining. At this point you can switch everything to spin and put them in the spinner (which holds the equivalent of about two double sheets) before you rinse or you can squeeze them out by hand. Either way, there's something of a staging problem. So repeat filling with water and tumbling and wringing or spinning until you think they're rinsed. This takes quite a while and quite a lot of attention and the washhouse is full of mosquitoes so it's not our favorite job. And that's one answer to those of you wondering what I do all day.
I just got to go on my last tourist trip -- to another Mayan
site -- so I'll tell you about that next and then that's probably
about it. See those of you in Oregon soon. And no, alas, blue
mangoes don't travel well, even in country.