Laundry is another big water use. We have a specially constructed laundry area on the second floor. Instead of hauling buckets of water from the ajibe (dry well) we have a hand pump. My mom sent it to us from the States as we were unable to find any sort of non-electric pump in the whole of México. It’s wonderful! My son’s job is to fill the barrica (barrel). My job is to wash the clothes on the washboard using a Tupper ware container to scoop the water from the barrica (barrel). My husband’s job is to wash the really heavy things, like blankets. The wash water goes down another pipe into our garden and waters the plants.
Sometimes, however, we are out of water at the house. This requires a trip to Quiahuyo. There is another natural spring there that has been divided into two area. One side feeds the lake, the other is diverted into a wash trough. The wash water goes to a swampy area near the lake and the plants filter the soap (which is typically biodegradable) from the water, which then runs into the lake.
Washing in the arroyo (stream) is not an easy task. Therefore, everyone has to pitch in and help. As it is uncommon to see men washing in the arroyo (stream) when my husband, son, and father-in-law come with me to wash, we are the object of mirth. The passers-by laugh, make comments about the gringa washing with the marimachos (men who are effeminate). Well, most of those comments come from the machismos (macho men) drinking their caguamas (beer) in the shade by the lake. The women who pass, however, say quietly in passing ‘que bueno’ referring both to my own industriousness and the fact that my men are assisting.
Then the wet clothing is loaded back in the truck (or in our moto cart) and hauled back to the house, up to the second floor, and hung out to dry. Besides the fact that we don’t have electricity to run a dryer, clothes dryers are rare, even among the wealthy. The sun is all a body needs to dry. However, make sure the clothes are hung inside out to reduce the amount of sun bleaching.
On occasion, an article of clothing is needed and the sun hasn’t been shining. So, we improvise. A little fire and a few minutes and its dry enough to wear in a pinch.