Laundry Woes

This first time I had to do laundry was on the first floor of our Wohnheim (a glorified dorm building) in Munich. Upon the recommendation of my friends who had done laundry earlier that week, I brought with me my German dictionary. Which was wise advice because I was then looking at a machine with foreign words and symbols, laundry vocabulary isn’t exactly high on the list in college classrooms.

After one month in Munich, we made the big move to Dresden. There I lived in an apartment like environment. The entire complex was comprised of five rather block like buildings, most likely left over from the days of GDR architecture design. My new laundry room was on the first floor of another building. After some intense searching to find it for the first time, I entered the room and to my surprise found only two washing machines and one drying machine. Here is where my American-ness shows: subconsciously I was expecting the large, bright, and industrial laundry room of my college dorm. Off from the small room containing the washing machines were two larger rooms, with cables strung across the ceilings and each labeled “Tröckenraüm”. A drying room. Despite my attempts to fully embrace German culture, I bought cable from the local store and each week rigged a clothesline in my bedroom to dry my clothes.

And now, I’m hit with another laundry predicament. During the apartment search, Alvaro found several suitable apartments, but I was insistent on one thing: my building needed a laundry room. Under no circumstances did I want to walk my dirty clothes to a laundromat each week. Thankfully, this building has a laundry room.

When I arrived, he told me that the laundry room is only open Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday. Unusual, yes, but perhaps it is more sensible. Today after lunch I took a trip to the laundry room, after it’s Wednesday and I need clean clothes. After several puzzled looks and rough translations, my doorman entered the laundry room and told us, “Not to worry, the laundry lady is on her lunch break but will return shortly.” A laundry lady? The doorman walked back inside and I begged Alvaro to inquire more about this situation.

It turns out that the building has a laundry woman come on Wednesdays and Fridays (not the aforementioned Mondays) and she is there from 7:20am-3pm. She does laundry for 2 soles per kilo (what’s a kilo?), folds the clothes and returns them to you.

I have a couple of concerns:

  1. I’m somewhat particular about my clothes, preferring to dry some and not dry others. I can’t imagine putting that responsibility on someone else.

  2. I don’t even ask my parents to do my laundry, let alone someone I don’t know.

  3. What happens when I work? Most likely I won’t be here to drop off and pick up my clothes?

  4. And finally- my explanations to her would be in Spanish, most certainly to take the better part of her seven hour shift.

Alvaro offered for me to do laundry at his parent’s place, which would require a fifteen minute walk along the streets with my dirty clothes, no gracias. For now, the plan is to do my laundry at his parent’s place on the weekends, when he can drive me. Not ideal, but it works. On Friday, when the laundry lady comes again, we are going to nicely ask her (and perhaps agree to keep paying her) if it would be possible for me to do my own laundry. I think I am just too uncomfortable with a stranger handling all my clothes.

It could be worse, yes I know. However, when moving to a new city, there are a few things that are harder to compromise on than if you were simply visiting. I do know one thing, one day when I settle down and have my own place, I will build a custom made laundry room: just for me.