Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Who Needs a Maytag

One of my least favorite chores on a boat is doing laundry. Invariably, the clothes are still both dirty, soapy and, when we tried washing them in seawater, also salty. Not to mention that we've just put in a lot of work for zero reward. I've taken to washing just a few things at a time in the sink, all in fresh water with a tiny bit of soap and some ammonia. This system works pretty well, but since water conservation is a big deal onboard most of the time we just break down and pay to have our clothes washed.

But I have finally found a place where I enjoy the whole laundry thing. The Rio Diablo. Yes, I know that translates to the Devil's River, but when Vlad and I took a heaping bag of dirty clothes upstream in the dinghy I swear we found laundry heaven. We motored about 20 minutes up the river, and it was like a Kuna superhighway. We were constantly passing people in cayucas who were tending gardens or bringing fresh water back to Nargana (the water pipe is broken in town). We hauled the dinghy up on a sandy bank in clear, cold, fresh water and commenced to laundrying it up.

I did the washing in a bucket, and Vlad did the rinsing in the river. He developed an efficient, assembly line process that consisted of throwing clothes upstream, catching them, wringing them out, and repeating until they were rinsed. I, however, just got covered in soap. We got to watch herons and jesus lizards and tiny fish all while completing one of those basic household tasks that you rarely think twice about on land. And we were not alone in our efforts. Another cruiser and a Kuna woman and her grandson were washing clothes at the river bend as well, creating a nice feeling of community in the middle of the jungle.

But after finishing our giant bag of laundry and heading back down the river, we got to meet another not-so-friendly river denizen. The crocodile.

We had heard from the other cruisers that there were some crocs hanging out in the water further down stream, and while Vlad navigated us through the half-submerged tree trunks I was on croc watch. We were both lamenting the fact that we had yet to see one when we spotted this guy lounging on a piece of drift wood. Vlad kept getting us closer and closer while I took pictures until we finally got a little too close and the crocodile hissed at us, mouth open and filled with jagged teeth, and slid into the water. Cue my mini freakout. That sucker was eight feet long! Washing clothes in the same river where crocodiles wile away the hours certainly gives an extra thrill to laundry day.