The first time I felt like I couldn’t survive in this culture was the day when I was determined to wash my clothes. That was the morning I was ready to give up on almost everything. When culture shock came roaring in my ears in the form of cleaning dirty clothes. I was so optimistic about this simple task, there is a laundry machine in the kitchen so how hard could it be? How naïve I once was about this.
I wanted to do it at night but my host mom shot me this look like “are you on crack right now” which confused me but I agreed that I would do it in the morning. The plan was I would stay home from school in the morning to do my wash. I thought this would be tons of time. At 9 am Ramon returned back to the home to ‘help me’ with my wash I thought this was super weird because why would I need someone to help me do my wash. We he got here he explained that I have to move the washing machine out into the backyard. Which made absolutely no sense to me, to our dismay neither of us had the key to the back door. Ramons solution was moving the laundry machine through the front door and bringing it around the house.. which was something I flat out refused to do.
At this point I was feeling pretty annoyed because the door was locked and I would have to wear gross clothing for another day. Ramon left the house and shortly after I was in my room studying Spanish- when I was interrupted by a loud continuous obnoxious honking sound outside of my window. When I went to the door to see what was going on.. I realized that some random taxi driver was standing beside motorcycle jingling the set of keys I needed. I was in shock that they sent the keys with some random driver. I snatched them from his hands and ran back to my room.
At this point I was feeling determined again, I would succeed at washing my clothes. So I dragged that super heavy laundry machine outside by myself. And then realized the switch for water to flow from the hose was just out of reach because it was behind locked bars.. and I didn’t have the keys to that as well. At was looking pretty ridiculous at this moment. This young girl practically foaming out of the mouth because of frustration over being locked out of everything- this is exactly how one of my neighbours found me. She came over curiously inspecting the scene watching as I fluttered around anxiously. It was probably very entertaining for her. I showed her that I couldn’t reach the hose and the old woman looked at me nodded her head and without another word walked back up the path into her house. Minutes later another man walking down the same path sees me and wordlessly he puts the house in the washing machine and some how makes water fill the machine that I am ready to kill. It was very odd that two people that I had never seen before came walking down a path and decided to take pity on me and my failure.
Two hours later I am still painstakingly sorting my colours and hanging then on the line to dry and I’m thinking to myself- this isn’t so bad, I could do laundry again as I finished up the last of my clothing. I went inside to get ready for school and took my dry clothes into my bedroom leaving the other slightly damp ones to finish drying in the breeze. I took a motorconcho to the school and left my frusterations about doing laundry at the house. That afternoon I started assisting the English teacher with her classes and was kept busy with that. I was watching classes help children pronounce letters and feeling good that I was doing something productive with my time when massive angry clouds crowded the skies. I didn’t really realize how much weather could effect life but in that moment I wanted to curse the skies for bringing their heavenly water to the earth because all of my work had now been ruined by 30 minutes of the skies pouring down.
When I returned home what I found was very damp clothing spread across the furniture inside, where my host parents had salvaged my soaking clothes from the rain. And in that day I made a very conscious decision, I have decided to support the local economy here. That involves me paying someone else to wash my clothing for me because it took hours of work, me being locked out of doors, me having to hear those awful roosters loudly all morning outside, incredibly heavy lifting and having the rain destroy most of my work and knocked some of my clothes in to the ground.. Definitely not my finest day here.