Suitcase and World: Interlude. Laundry.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Interlude. Laundry.

The thing about travelling with a backpack is there's not a whole lot of room for clothes - especially when you have to carry a sleeping bag as well.

My entire wardrobe for three weeks consisted of:

  • 2 pairs of hiking pants
  • 2 pairs of capris (which I only wore at the beach and one day in Cairo)
  • a pair of gym shorts
  • a pair of cotton leggings
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 2 long sleeve shirts
  • 4 pairs of socks
  • 3 pairs of underwear (3 each top and bottom)
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 cotton sweater (which I couldn't wear after my elbow got put in the cast)....and,
  • ...My trusty fleece jacket
Knowing that there be times when:
  1. we would not arrive/leave a hotel at a time that we could drop off/pick up laundry or else
  2. we would be in locations where laundry facilities are not available,
I was fully prepared to do laundry every other night if I had to. I had warned Lei about the laundry situation, so we brought along our own washing supplies which consisted of:
  • detergent (liquid and powder)
  • plastic hangers and clips
  • a length of rope to be used as a clothesline (thanks to advice from Lei's mom)
  • a drain plug. You might think this is an odd thing to bring along but you'd be surprised how many sinks don't have plugs!
As one quickly discovers, it's not washing the clothes that's the challenge, it's drying them! We got really good at figuring out how to get clothes dried as the trip progressed.
In Cairo, Lei strung up the clothesline -one end tied to the curtain rod and the other end to the door knob. To counter the effects of gravity, we used the red clips to stop the downward slide.

In Aswan, there was no way to string up the clothesline, so Lei hung her "heavy" items on hangers on the shower rod and I used the rod inside the armoire. I hung my hiking pants on the wall thermostat and she hung her "delicates" on a hanger hooked onto a wall sconce.
In Luxor, there were enough hooks and rods in the bathroom to take care of our needs. We liked Luxor.

In Mount Sinai, Lei's hanger was hooked to the wall heater and I dried my clothes atop the space heater. Everything dried in record time!

In Nuweiba, at the beach camp on the Red Sea, Lei strung up the clothesline outside her hut and it soon became the "communal" line for anyone needing to dry clothes. Lei was determined to do her laundry - to wash off the saltwater. I didn't have the heart to tell her that they did not desalinate the water piped to the sinks so she would have done just as well dunking her clothes into the sea!

Lei's clothesline, strung outside her hut.

By the time we arrived in Petra (about 3/4 of the way through our trip), I had gotten so used to seeing our laundry hung in the oddest of places, that it didn't faze me to walk into the room and see Lei's laundry hanging from the curtain rod!

The other thing you learn about travelling, under conditions where you have to frequently do your own laundry, is to bring along quick wicking clothes. While my clothes would dry quickly, Lei's often took much longer and on more than one occasion, had to be repacked into her pack slightly wet. Oh well. What to do?

In Cairo, she was worried that her socks would not dry in time. She had the same concern about my socks though I reassured her they would. So, she put both our socks to dry on the light bulb of the wall sconce. At one point, she wanted to know if I smelled something burning. Gee, I wonder what it could be? She quickly realized it was the socks!! One of my socks had just a little burn hole so it was still wearable. Alas, that was not the case with one of Lei's socks which had the heel burned out so she had to toss it. As a result, she was only able to hang one, lonely sock up on the clothesline to dry. So sad :-(