The Nicaraguan ABCs: L is for...


Washing machines are rare here, and usually reserved for the “wealthy” (at least in rural small-town Nicaragua where we live).  If we had children, or if we were living here for more than a year, I think we would have seriously considered getting a washing machine.  But since it’s been just the two of us here for less than a year, and because we wanted to relate to the locals as much as possible, (not appearing filthy rich to our literacy students, who are mostly very poor), we opted to wash clothes by hand.
It’s been a humbling experience for me.  It’s hard, very time-consuming, and sometimes even painful. Your hands and forearms can cramp up.  (Tedd even strained a muscle once when ringing out really heavy pants & for several days it would hurt to even unscrew a bottle cap).  Almost every time I’m scrubbing clothes and ringing out sheets, I think of the women all over Nicaragua who are washing clothes almost daily for their family of 12 or more, usually having to walk down to a river to do it.  I don’t know how they do it.  As often as I feel sorry for myself and grumpy when I have to do hard and uncomfortable tasks, this is one thing I’ve never been grumpy about.  It’s just sobering for me to think that there are millions of women around the world scrubbing clothes by hand, and I feel somehow honored to be a part of that for this season.

Our visitors from the States have been able to experience washing clothes by hand too!
Bradley Means using the scrubbing board in our sink
Amy & Bradley Means ringing out heavy jeans (hey that rhymes!)
Brad hanging out the laundry to dry
(ignore drunk man on neighbor's porch)
Emily Willard doing the "spin cycle"
Of course, we have our own weird gringo system for doing it.  Today I didn’t finish ringing out the last bit of laundry until 4pm.  Tedd and I started to hang out clothing on our front porch just an hour before sundown and the neighbors were all staring unashamedly.  They normally do laundry around sunrise.  We also don’t have much of a patio, so we have to hang up clothing all over our living room and point fans on everything, which is pretty embarrassing when someone stops by unexpectedly for a visit…it must look pretty bizarre to them.
Needless to say, I’ll be really excited to have a washing machine someday, and I hope I won’t ever take it for granted. for Motorcycle


  1. So true - I can't imagine doing that for a huge family, every day! But it was fun for me to get to wash clothes there a time or two! :) I often think of the people there when I'm washing clothes and dishes at home - why is it so easy to complain about it when it's actually really easy here? I like the word you used to describe it - sobering.

    And I still just love the picture of Annabelle looking in on the washing!


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