Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Laundry in Sierra Leone...

Tuesday and Friday nights is when I do a load of laundry. So, that's what I am up to tonight. And so far, so good. Fortunately tonight has been rather uneventful laundry wise. This is not always the case. Sometimes doing laundry here can be quite the ordeal. Yes, we have washing machines. And yes, we have dryers. But they don't always work as they should.

First of all, we can only use them on the big generator. So, if that's broken, you can forget it for the night, try again when the generator is fixed.

Secondly, the doors are broken, so you have to pull on a string to open the doors.

Thirdly, the water pressure is so low, you have to fill the machines with water using a hose, which is not a problem, as long as there is water in the water tank. If the tank is empty you first have to ask the guard to pump water into the tank. Then try again a little later.

Once you've filled the machine with water, the cycle begins. If you're unlucky, however, the machine may dump out all of the water and you have to refill it! Back to square one.

Half way through the cycle - about 20 minutes - you have to add water again, for the rinse cycle. If you are late and miss this, the machine stops. Then you have to manually put it to the rinse cycle and add water. After a good 40 minutes it's dryer time, which usually goes smoothly.

The funniest experience I've had here doing laundry occurred last week as I was showing one of our guests how to use the machines. I was only on step 1: how to open the doors when the craziest thing happened. As I demonstrated to her how to open the doors I was hit with a flood of water. I am serious it was a flood. I didn't know the machines could hold so much water! My jeans were soaked in minutes, as water continued gushing out of the machine, onto the floor. The guest was also caught by surprise and I was worried she might fall off of the steps! She didn't. Anyway, apparently someone had run a test cycle on that machine and forgot to turn off the water tap in the back, meaning that the machine had filled up. Welcome to laundry adventures in Sierra Leone...

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