All of my undergarments are dirty, do I pack together the two kilograms of allotted laundry needed for Girasole Lavanderia (Sunflower Laundry) or do I handwash my underwear and call it a day? I just paid for laundry last week, my clothes aren’t that smelly yet, however if I handwash just my undies, I will have to hang them up on the line outside for all the other travelers at the hostel to see. It’s one thing to have your unmentionables air drying in your backyard, it’s another thing to put them on a line shared with an entire hostel’s worth of people. I daresay it’s a lesson in humility. I know my jokes can be foul sometimes, I swear too often, I have no filter and I say inappropriate things at the worst (or best, if you are of a similar “no filter” caliber) times. I do have some boundaries though, however fuzzy they may be, and allowing my underwear to sway in the breeze on the rooftop of Hostal Chalupa for the casual public eyes of scrutiny is hovering just over the edge of the line.
There is nothing wrong with not wanting relative strangers witnessing my cotton drying outside. But I really didn’t have anything else to bring to Girasole so I sucked it up and washed what needed to be washed in the sink. It took me an entire morning to come to terms with it all, I might as well have made a pros and cons list of “Handwashing Underwear and Drying it Outside.” I wrestled with the impending embarrassment should something go massively wrong in this operation. What if someone else needs to hang up wet items and has to move my drying underwear? I organized the laundry line just so, towels and sarongs on the first two lines and the line closest to the wall and most out of sight, my unmentionables freshly scrubbed and soaking wet. My high hopes that said items would dry quickly were thwarted when I slowly realized that the laundry line is under an overhang of the roof and the sun never touches it. It’ll take the wind to dry it and the sun won’t be of much use. This means it will take twice, maybe three times as long to dry in this humidity.
And I have this weird obsession with constantly checking in on my wet items drying. As if they are miniature people sunbathing, “Still damp, eh? Ok, I’ll be back in ten minutes to check-in, do you need anything to drink? Juice? Coffee? Gin?” I would do this back home when I lived alone and hung my clothes on a drying rack in my living room. I’m like a squirrel checking in on her bounty of nuts. I start a task and ten minutes later, I’m back to the drying rack to mark the progress. Why do I do this? I haven’t the faintest idea. It’s an attention problem for sure, despite the fact that I am powerless to urge my laundry to dry quickly, I still feel the need to stop whatever I’m doing and constantly check on it.
It makes me think of a conversation I had with my mom before I left, “Mom, does A.D.D. run in our family?”
“No, I don’t think so. It’s just a general sort of short attention span that you and I have, lack of attention and what not, we have a hard time concentrating.”
We were hiking as she said this, I was fingering an autumn leaf, obviously only half listening. I looked over at her and said, “What?”
And I was trying to be stealth too! After washing my underwear, I gingerly stepped outside of my room, looked around and hurriedly ran up to the roof to hang everything on the line at the top of the stairs. This is an accurate representation of my inner monologue at this point:
“I’m so busted if anyone comes up the stairs right now and sees me hanging up my underwear.”
“Why? Everyone wears underwear and everyone needs clean underwear.”
“Yeah, but if someone sees me, then they’ll know what kind of underwear I wear.”
“People see your bathing suit bottoms drying, what’s the issue with your other bottoms drying?”
“Because I don’t prance around in my underwear at the beach! Well, I don’t prance around in general. Bathing suit bottoms are much different than underwear, similar shape yes, but the functions you wear them for are completely different.”
All of this coming from a woman who has no problem mooning Ashley on a semi-regular basis. And laughing hysterically every time Calai farts and being more amused than annoyed when he peed through his diaper onto me the other night. Still though, I don’t want people looking at my underwear, I don’t want to be identified at Chalupa by my unmentionables. I don’t allow myself to think about the women who work at Girasole Lavanderia, folding my bottoms into neat little squares. Luckily, you can remain slightly anonymous with a laundry service.
About four hours into my garments drying slower than thick oil paint on a canvas, it started to rain. I sighed in exasperation. You’ve got to be kidding me. You know that pungent, moldy smell that comes when you have wet laundry attempting to dry but it just stays wet for more than a day or two? Ugh, this is what will occur with my hopeful attempts at handwashing and line drying. They weathered the night out there, remaining damp and useless. The next day, I went upstairs to check in. Still wet, so I did some yoga in the shade. An hour later, the unthinkable, the worst, the regrettable happened. Several pairs had lept off the line and were lounging in various places on the staircase. Rouge teenagers disobeying their parents, I finally understood what I put my own parents through during my high school years. I was stunned, I was speechless, I gasped. Shit, and the French Canadian gal in the bunk below me was walking up the stairs at that very moment. She looked at me and smiled as I feigned cheer and said, “Ohh, my underwear is all over the place.” She just laughed. I don’t get embarrassed easily but I think I may have been turning red, just a little.
So it was too windy out, clothespins were necessary but not present. I pondered, do I stand guard here and wait for them to dry completely (I wouldn’t put it past myself to do so), catching the rebellious ones that fly off the line and putting them back or do I take them into my dorm room and hang them on the rungs of my top bunk bed? Anonymous? I think not. If I did that, they might as well be on display, I might as well hang them like decorations on the walls for everyone in the dorm room to enjoy. I just needed a damn clean pair of underwear to wear at this point too. Ok, girl, swallow your pride, step on your embarrassment, it’s time to OWN your underwear and hang it on your bunk bed rungs. So I did. It wasn’t so bad. I probably went into my room only five or six times to see if they were dry.
These simple little things are the issues I grapple with since I have been living at Hostal Chalupa for the past six weeks. When I was renting a room in town, I was doing a better job of isolating myself rather than socializing and making friends. I decided to forgo my much desired daily alone time and suck it up with little to no privacy, except when you’re in the bathroom or the rare occasion that the hostel isn’t busy and you have a dorm room all to yourself, and move back to the hostel that I first stayed at when I arrived. Also, things like waking up in the middle of the night and needing to use the loo but the three steps down the ladder from your top bunk at 4AM is basically like descending Mt. Everest, so you just roll over and pretend your bladder isn’t screaming at you. The top bunk is good because no one can watch you sleep but not so good for 4AM bathroom wake up calls.
But Chalupa is an amazing place filled with good people. Moving back there was one of the best decisions I’ve made in Tulum As I’ve mentioned, there is a rooftop terrace. It’s an asset here. It’s my yoga studio most mornings, my office in the afternoon (most of my recent blog posts and skype dates take place here) and my moon gazing hang out spot at night. In living here, I’ve made a handful of good friends, I have rarely dined solo, I have learned some Spanish, and I’ve got a place in Tulum that feels like home.
To fill you in on my next step in my travels, I am now in San Cristobal. I will be here for the weekend and on Sunday I am going to San Pedro, Guatemala. I’ve enrolled in Spanish Language School and I’ll be living with a family there. In the months that I’ve spent here, I have learned some Spanish but I’m not at the level I want to be so the full immersion approach will boost the conversation skills significantly. In April, I am going to Costa Rica to get my Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate. After April, who knows? I want to get a job teaching but I’m unsure of where. I have three stipulations, make some money, continue to speak loads of Spanish and live near the ocean in hot weather. I don’t think it will be too difficult. It’s freezing in San Cristobal compared to Tulum, I’m keeping my fingers crossed it’s warmer in San Pedro…