The simplest daily tasks can turn into major challenges in an unfamiliar country.
I figured laundry would be a piece of cake. Go to a laundromat, put some dirhams in the machine, throw my laundry in, wait. Done.
But I have yet to find a coin-operated laundromat in Rabat, and no one has been able to tell me where one might be. I’m not sure they’re a thing here. I’ve heard it’s common and inexpensive to hire a part-time housekeeper to handle things like laundry, but that isn’t an option for me yet.
One of our program staff did some research and found something that seemed to be a laundry place, a ten-minute walk from where we’re staying. They would weigh our laundry and charge us a small amount per kilogram. It sounded promising. So three of us dragged our laundry bags through the neighborhood to the address we’d been given. It looked like a dry cleaner’s to me – the shop was lined with racks of shirts in plastic bags and hangers – but I asked if they handled basic washing and drying and the man and woman behind the counter nodded yes. Perfect! I placed my bag of clothes on the counter. The man and woman looked a little skeptical, I asked another question, realized that they did not speak much French, and started wondering if they’d understood me. Too late! They dumped my dirty socks and underwear on the counter and looked through it, saying things in Darija I didn’t understand. I asked again, “Do you have washing machines here?” The man understood me this time. “Oh! No, we don’t. But there’s a place around the corner.”
So the laundry went back into the bag and we set off in search of this other laundry place. But we couldn’t find it, gave up, and dragged our dirty clothes home.
We tried again another day. We heard about a “self-laverie” a little further down the road. Except it wasn’t actually a self-laverie; we’d leave our clothing overnight and they would charge us by the bag. Washing laundry in Morocco seems to be like pumping gas in New Jersey. We set off once again, lugging our bags of laundry down a busy street in the hot sun, while people stared at us, but whatever, it would be worth it. Just think: Clean socks!
We finally made it to the self-laverie.
And it was closed.
At 1:30 on a Monday afternoon.
So we lugged our laundry bags all the way home again.
I was done. All I want is clean clothes. Is that too much to ask for?? And all I’ve managed to accomplish is a reputation as that crazy American who carries bags of dirty clothing up and down the street. So I quit the looking-for-a-laundromat mission and picked up a new life skill: Washing my clothes in the shower and hanging them to dry from the balcony.
We did finally manage to get our clothes washed (and dried and – I’m pretty sure – pressed) at the self-laverie, so the saga of laundromat troubles ended well, and we can laugh about it now. Shukran bizaaf!