It began with the promise of being an easy day. We had returned the previous night from our jungle tour in the Amazon. Our one real goal for the day was to wash clothes.
At home, of course, this would be simple. We would throw the dirty clothes into the washing machine, add detergent, and go about our other business returning in an hour to find clean clothes. It was not so easy for us in Manaus, Brazil.
The hostel had no washing machines for guests. There was no self-service laundromat nearby. I went to a drop-off laundry store and in broken Portugese (helped by a translating app), I learned that they may not be able to get our clothes washed in one day. So, we decided to hand wash.
We have done this numerous times while traveling. But on this day, the temperature was around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the humidity was high, and our energy still was low after our trip to the Amazon. The four of washed our mound of clothes one piece at a time in a sink. After wringing each piece in a towel that quickly became soaked, we hung our clothes on twine we brought from home and tied up in a courtyard at the hostel.
We felt sweat running down our backs and legs, on our foreheads, and above our lips. It was a type of hard work that we usually don’t face thanks to our automated washers.
Later, while going to a market to get good to fix for dinner, I saw laundry hanging from apartment windows and on balconies that others had washed that day just as we had done. It was a stark reminder of the challenges many people face everyday.
Our sweat eventually dried, our clothes eventually were clean, we got showers in cool water, and we went to bed. We travel next to Peru where temperatures and humidity will be much lower.