I hate the laundry.  In America I didn’t hate doing the laundry; in fact, it was a reminder of the luxury of life in the United States.  Every time I did the laundry I was reminded of just how easy life was for us there.

We mentioned in a long ago post how our first apartment in Ireland had a washer/dryer in the kitchen, and it sounded like a jet plane about to take off.  The washer and dryer in our second apartment was out in a separate building, and was shared with two other properties, so it was less noisy but often occupied and not always convenient.

Here in Mexico, though, and often when we’re on the road, we simply have to turn our wash over to someone else.  Our apartment doesn’t have a washer we can use, and there are no self-service washers in town that we know of (actually, they seem pretty rare in every country we’ve visited), so we go to a lavanderia.  It might sound nice not to have to deal with the laundry but it isn’t. Let me use our current situation to explain why.

When we drop off the laundry, it’s usually ready the next day, but it can take up to two days before it’s done.  With last week being Semana Santa (Holy Week) many shops, including our lavanderia, shut down from Thursday on, so to be sure we got our clothes back before they left on holiday, we had to get our last batch of clothes in on Monday of last week and we weren’t able to get anything washed for a week.  For many of you a week without washing clothes is no great inconvenience, but we travel light — I own five pair of pants, about that many t-shirts, and two button-up shirts.  Since I can’t exactly deliver the dirty clothes naked, at least some of our clothes are not able to go for a wash at any one time, and so a week without being able to wash is a problem.

I dropped off clothes Monday morning, and miracle of miracle, they promised they would be done that afternoon.  Unfortunately, when I went to pick it all up, the smallest bill I had was a 200 peso bill (about $16) and they couldn’t make change for the 72 peso charge.  So, our desperately needed clothing was done, but I couldn’t get it because I didn’t have the right size bills.  Luckily, when Amy got home she had some smaller bills and was able to pick up the clean clothes.

Today, though, when Amy went to pick up another load, she had a 50 peso bill and the charge was 42 pesos.  The 8 pesos in change is about 65 cents.  The woman working at the lavanderia laughed as she looked at her till, because she barely had enough change, with Amy cleaning her out.  We discovered upon Amy’s return home that she was actually short-changed one peso, however, so the lavaderia wasn’t actually able to make 8 pesos in change.  Our earlier post about the difficulty of making change is applicable here in Mexico – one store is so averse to giving change, the owners have a sign saying they won’t accept bills, which means the largest denomination they’ll accept is a 10 peso coin, or about 80 U.S. cents.  It can be maddening to be in a country that often requires exact change but by that same token never gives you any.