Easter Sunday

April 13, 2009

April 12, 2009

Many Ugandans were in high spirits on Easter Sunday, but it was still a laundry day for me. Doing laundry is a big deal when one doesn’t have a washing machine. My fingers feel as rough as sandpaper after spending couple of hours washing our clothes. I volunteered to wash my husband Fractal”s clothes since he meticulously tidied our room yesterday. Our host brother David glanced across the patio as I was washing our clothes.  I felt a bit self-conscious, as I wasn’t heeding his instructions. David told me that I washed like a 3-year old when he first saw me wash clothes. I informed him that I didn’t have to wash that hard since all my clothes were colored and I preferred them to last a bit longer than a few months. He still took the shirt from my hands and scrubbed it to make sure I knew how to clean the shirt.  As he proceeded to tightly wring it, he noticed a distraught expression on my face as if I was feeling the cloth fibers scream in pain. The moment he stopped, I gently took the shirt and told him that washing instructions said not to wring clothes unless you want them stretched out and last for a few months.  He got a good laugh when I showed him the white piece of “instruction” tag. David couldn’t understand why one would need directions for a simple task of washing clothes–an activity a 7-year old Ugandan would know. I informed him that I lack the expertise of hand-washing clothes as machines wash and dry clothes for me back home. After asking me whether washing machines were common in the US, he added that he would never trust machines with his clothes; he believed that only his hands could up hold those high standards of cleanliness. David fortunately didn’t give me any more advice on washing laundry for the couple of hours.  Having assembled a line of buckets—one with soapy water, the second with plain water, and the third without any water—I wasted no time as I dipped one article of clothing in the soapy water bucket and squeezed the soap out before I placed it in the next bucket. I had a long way to go and didn’t have much daylight left since I started kind of late in the afternoon. We would have damp laundry drying in our room tonight.  I really don’t like the smell of wet clothes in a room without adequate ventilation (we leave our windows closed for fear of Anopheles mosquitoes and door shut to keep our privacy).

Our room is large enough to fit our beds and some of our luggage. The house has three other bedrooms. The host mom Jenny, niece, cook’s daughter, and a cousin live in the main house with us. A living and dining room, an indoor toilet and a separate bathroom, a small kitchen, and a garage are in the main building. Most of the meals are prepared in another kitchen outside the main house, which also houses some hens that are incubating their eggs,in a rectangular building with three other rooms. The host brother James lives in one, the host-mom’s aunt and the cook sleep in another, and the goats stay in the other. There are couple of rooms in the main house adjacent to the exit door that one cannot access from inside the house. Our host brother’s fiancée Tara and nephew David live in those rooms. In addition to these members, there’re couple of men who live in a third building that has another room, which accommodates the rest of the domestic fowl. The house is always alive with some kind of activity. There’s always someone washing dishes, cooking the next meal, or weaving mats in the patio. I like coming back from Raco, where we have our language classes and technical training, to someone calling out, “Kuli Kayo” (welcome back).

I actually wish I had more time with our homestay. The long six working days/week training didn’t give us that much time with our host family. I truly hoped we had more time for conversations with Jenny. Now we’ve just another week before we go to Kampala for swearing in as Peace Corps Volunteers at the US Embassy. I still have to prepare for a qualifying project and a language proficiency interview. At least, the laundry is done.

“The contents of this Web site are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.”


2 Responses to “Easter Sunday”

  1. alex said

    anjou, i used to wash my clothes in a bucket…the tub was large enough to put all my clothes in then add the soap and i would sit down in a chair beside it and agitate the water with my feet…clean your clothes and feet at the same time. got some weird looks from the natives but they got used to it after a while, and the best part is that my clothes lasted practically the whole two years!!!!

    • myafricancorner said

      Alex!!!I’m just picturing you on an island cleaning clothes with your feet in a bucket. I shared the comment with Fractal & we were laughing out loud. Thanks for reading. We miss you. We’re happy campers; we got some visitors from home. Hope your work is going well.

      Have you read Three Cups of Tea? Uplifting story. You might like it.

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