Saturday, July 28, 2007

Stinky Dirty Clothes

I admit it. Cairo is hot.

And I don't mean sexy.

I expected Cairo to be hot. Not exactly a surprise. The humidity surprised me though. It's nothing like the drenching humidity at home, but the moisture is still noticeable. The hot-air-dryer-quality of the wind blowing through taxi windows leaves me exhausted and unwilling to exert myself. I look at the exercise mat I have in my room. And then I look away.

A side effect of the heat is that my clothes need laundering frequently. Sweat happens.

In my old Cairo flat, I had a washing machine in my kitchen. But I'm living in Flamenco Hotel. I like living in the hotel because towels miraculously clean themselves. The bed, left messy when I leave, is neat and tucked in when I return. I don't have to worry about the electricity bill. I didn't have to pay a huge security deposit. If dust finds its way in--and it does in Cairo--someone cleans it up without me having to buy a Swiffer. The place is clean, has a desk, a fridge, a Nile balcony, and now that I have gone to the Alfa Market, it also has an electric kettle, a hot plate, and the fitness mat. But I hate not having a washing machine.

In Uganda, I'd wash clothes in the bathtub. I once scratched the tub surface with the buttons on HM's Levi's. Here in Cairo, I think I'm going to start doing this again. Not scratching the tub, I mean. Hand-washing.

There's no laundry-by-the-kilo or pound here. It's all by the piece. I've tried three laundry services here and all are completely over-the-top. My jeans are returned dry-cleaned and ironed (and shrunk). My T-shirts are returned on hangers. Even my underwear comes back ironed and wrapped in plastic.

Of the three—American, Ritz, and Modern Laundry—Ritz was the most professional and user-friendly. But it's not like at home, or like in Bangkok or many parts of the world, where you drop your dirty laundry on a scale and that's how they determine what you owe. It's all by the piece and laundering is an art. My clothes are mostly cheap, bought at Target, Marshall's, and Macy's on sale days. It costs me more to wash them than it did to buy the items new.

I appreciate the sentiment that all work worth doing is worth doing well. But I'm switching to the bathtub.


Marc Siry said...

How long are you going to be in Cairo? Maybe it's worth investing in a portable washing machine.

Marie said...

I don't know if I'll be here a month or a half-year. I can probably improvise using the bidet.