Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dubious Dhobis

While I can be like any other slob at home, I do have some remnants of my army days still programmed in me. I remember those days when we would return from a mission or exercise, and the first thing we would do (despite being up all night, moving swiftly through the jungle brush to our objective, then striking hard and fast) would be to clean our equipment. Rifles, signal sets, all equipment was cleaned up even with camouflage still on our faces. Next would come a hastily cooked packet of instant noodles over a bunsen stove. Then the shower, then finally, blissful rest.

I'm no longer in the army now. Haven't been back for the past few years now (sweet taste of freedom! Yeah!) and the programming seems to have slipped a bit.

Two full days of the Santa Cruz trek saw us stepping on small piles of poop while avoiding the big ones. The skies that opened up on our return journey had us all soaking wet, from head down to muddy shoes. Our ride back to civilisation was in a truck filled with chicken coops, thankfully with no chickens, but I had telltale white stains all over my jacket and backpack, not to mention having to hold the icky cages back to keep them from falling on me whenever the truck went over a bump!

Perhaps it is a sign of having returned back to civilian life, in mind and in body. But when we returned to Huaraz, the first order of business was to shower, then eat, then sleep. Washing of equipment was relegated to "have thought about it, and decided when to do it" status!

The next day was nice and sunny, and after a quick breakfast, we proceeded to the rooftop of our hostel for some serious cleaning. The rooftop was a nice location because:

1) There were a couple of heavy-duty sinks there that could take sediment being washed down.
2) The clotheslines were already strung up by the hostel owners.
3) It was relatively secluded, and Ching Ching can make all the noise her petite frame could conjure up

Ching doing the underwear while I did the footwear

And what a washup we had! The staff of the hostel lent us some basins which we made full use of. Rinsed off the muddy stuff. Soaked the sweat-stained stuff. Removed insect legs and the remainder of clingy plants from our socks and gloves. Scrubbed the shoes till they looked almost brand new. Even the alpaca sweater/jackets we bought from Otavalo got a good washing!

Ebony and Ivory

We spent about three whole hours scrubbing and cleaning everything with detergent that we bought earlier. And frankly, it was really quite fun because our spirits were high from the good rest we had. It was great basking in the warmth of the sun, and sniggering at the thought of the other poor angmohs up in the snowy mountains with wet socks and underwear from the previous day. Nya nya nya nya nya!

Lending a few sets of helping fingers

What really struck me was also how well the three of us worked together. Other than stopping to wow at the scenery from the roof, none of us slacked for the entire time we were up there. When the two sinks were being used, the 3rd person would be scrubbing at another basin, or helping hang up the clothes, or even just getting drinking water. We reveled in being totally Singaporean after being among foreigners for so long. Even a bad case of finger cramps couldn't dampen our spirits!

Proud of their handiwork!

By the time we were done, almost all the clotheslines were taken up by our clothes and gear. But the potent combination of the sun and breeze meant that some of the clothes could already be kept. Which caused me to ponder - in conditions like this, is it better to wash the thicker clothes that are harder to dry so that they get more exposure to the sun before dusk, or is it better to wash the quick-dry clothes so that you can keep them first?

A bond that's hard to sunder

Little did I know that I should have pondered more deeply on another question. In the event where most of my clean clothes were still with the donkeys accompanying the rest of the group, and I had only one clean t-shirt with me, is it really wise to take it off while washing in the hot sun for three hours?

Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch!

Seriously, it's such a good thing we have a sponsor for aloe vera products! Thank goodness for good friends like Ching Ching (who came to South America to join us) and Jasmine (who mailed the lifesaving aloe vera gelly to us. It was too late to prevent the peeling, but it sure soothed the raging heat in my back!


forex course said...

Hi, First time here at this blog. Its very interesting I like it very much. I wanna to visit here very often.

Granny Smith Bandit said...

Ok you guys are stressing me out, heh heh, I am halfway through my side of the story, will send the passage across by email soon!

Dannie said...

@GSB Yes, you should be! Quick! Our audience want to hear your side of the story. Or better still, stories!

Tracy Su said...

'Which caused me to ponder - in conditions like this, is it better to wash the thicker clothes that are harder to dry so that they get more exposure to the sun before dusk, or is it better to wash the quick-dry clothes so that you can keep them first?'

Aiyo...HELLO UNCA! hahahah...

Dannie said...

Eh, "HELLO UNCA" is not helping with my pondering! Do you have a view or not, O Manipulator of Textiles?

Tracy Su said...

Well, I get a great view of textiles (other people's and sometimes my own) from the back room where I work.

But if I really wanted to aspire to Auntie-dom, it depends on how much washing line you have, how much time, whether rain is forecasted, whether you have spare clothing, whether you get sunburn...etc etc...

The conclusion is inconclusive.

WeLoveRoy said...


I wanna travel also... sob sob..

Dannie said...

Roy: Shanghai IS travel for you! Haha... honestly though, Ching had this impression that you were coming to join us. That invitation is always open. If not in South America, then in SFO or HKG! :)

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