Or is it? You see one of our more unexpected fun-filled memories of our trip to Morocco is around that very subject, the subject of laundry and machine washing. What made me think of this particular day was because today I had a washing machine drama at home. The mat that was supposed to be able to be machine-washed disintegrated during cycles, to the point where the machine no longer did anything other than whirr! After a bill for way more than the mat is worth, but less than a replacement machine, the washing routine is back with a vengeance. Back to Morocco, Fez actually…
We had been carrying washing for a number of days through Spain (as you do) and expected to be able to find the very obliging laundry person(s) ready and willing to take all our things (including our smalls) and work their magic for a very reasonable price; to then return them to us in a better state than when they left us. I love the idea of outsourcing such a chore, and it you can’t do it on holidays when can you, right? Well in this instance, that wasn’t to be.
Given the Fez medina is quite the rabbit warren (even the locals can get lost), finding our way to the laundry from the Riad that we were staying in was a mini adventure in itself. But we made it, phew! Then the loud babbling noises of a language that we have no idea about started over the top of the machines purring and the presses pressing, and literally over our heads. Once they found someone down the back that could speak some English, we started to get somewhere. To determine how big a job it was and how much to charge, they went through all our washing for a total of 5 people, and I mean all of it. Picture this, in a very foreign place, spread across all the counters of the laundry were not only our clothes but also our smalls i.e. underpants, bras, singlets, boxer shorts; you name it, it was there for all of Fez to see, and see they did. There were many locals, both working and visiting, that had a good old chuckle at our expense.
Nevertheless, once they had determined what they needed to do plus the tourist factor, they delivered the price. Low and behold, it was a whole lot more than we expected. We had allowed for some inflationary pressures, but not to these heights. It must have been about 800-900 dirham because it was going to equate to approximately AUD$200, which is about the same in USD (0.94) at the moment. I don’t know about you, but I can buy a new washing machine at home for roughly double that, so not only had the ordeal to date been rather embarrassing, it was also becoming exorbitant.
We did manage to barter them down a little, but not enough to warrant spending that kind of money on everyday washing. So we then had to pack all our bits up and head on out, wondering what on earth we were going to do now. Then it dawned on one of us that we’d seen a clothesline on the roof of the Riad when we had breakfast earlier in the day.
So we lugged the washing back to the Riad (yes, we did make it without getting lost) and proceeded to find the owner/manager. We asked if we could do a little washing and hang it on the line up above. They were very obliging and said of course. The beauty about drying in somewhere like Fez is that it takes no time at all; the heat and the breezes make it perfect drying weather, we just had to get it washed. And washed we did. No fancy-schmancy machines for us. It was the good old bucket, albeit a very large one, cold water and washing powder, and a whole heap of elbow (and feet) grease!
Whilst the two 11-year olds of the 5 are not mollycoddled by any means, they had never washed in such an archaic fashion before. They were quick to learn however. Think wine making grape-stomping style. We loaded up the buckets; the girls rolled up their pants and went to town, stomping to the music we were listening to either via the call to prayer or the accompanying melodic tunes. They had so much fun, as did we that we ended up washing everything we had, and spending a good couple of hours doing it. It was definitely an unexpected hoot.
We did take up nearly all of the washing lines too, but fortunately the turnaround was rather quick. Interestingly enough, I have mentioned doing the same thing at home in our backyard (now that our weather is getting so much warmer) but alas, it just doesn’t seem to have the same appeal. This is one of those memorable gems that really can’t be replicated anywhere else, mores the pity.
the entrepreneurial mother™