Laundry woes

clothes horse in Bilbão

clothes horse in Bilbão

The next time you toss a load of laundry in your clothes dryer, consider this: While all of the apartments we’ve rented in Spain have had washing machines, none has had a dryer. Some have had a clothes horse, as the British call them – those marvelous drying racks that hold a boatload of laundry.

Our most recent apartment in Zaragoza had a little drying rack outside the kitchen window that hung out over what I can only call a clothes drying shaft. If you stick your head out the window and look up and down the shaft, you will see all the clothes drying racks of the apartments above and below you. And if you peer all the way down into the bottom of the murky shaft, you will see a cemetery of lost clothes and clothespins. (I wonder who is responsible for cleaning out the bottom of the drying shaft.)

We scoffed at the outdoor drying rack in Zaragoza and bypassed washing clothes until we got to Barcelona where the hosts of our current apartment would surely have a sophisticated indoor clothes horse.

Never scoff; you’re only asking for something worse. I once scoffed at a sink in England with the hot and cold taps so far apart it was impossible to get warm water. Our next apartment had the same situation with the additional challenge of a basin so small you couldn’t wash your hands without getting the entire bathroom wet. (The bathroom was the size of a broom closet.)

outdoor laundry area in Barcelona

outdoor laundry area in Barcelona – laundry hanging four floors above ground

My payment for scoffing at the outdoors drying rack in Zaragoza is a full outdoor laundry area in Barcelona. The washer and clothesline are out on the balcony. Note the shower curtain draped over it all to keep the rain and bird droppings off!

We used it (we were desperate for clean clothes by this time), and it worked even though it’s rained almost every day we’ve been here. I can tell you that we hung on tightly to every article of clothing until the clothespin was secure. And we brought everything in for a final air-dry in the apartment. (A pair of jeans is going on three days of dampness.)

typical Spanish clothes dryer

typical Spanish clothes dryer

As with the Brits and their two-tap sinks, I have to wonder why the Spanish don’t spoil themselves a bit and buy a dryer. Is it the cost of the appliance, or the cost of electricity? Or just a cultural thing? I’m hoping that in their own apartments they’ve splurged on themselves and bought a dryer. But something tells me, from all the laundry we’ve seen hanging outside windows, that that’s not the case. How is it that their knit tops don’t look as if they’ve been slept in like mine do? I took a closer look when we were people watching at a café: They do!

So next time you pull those fluffy, warm clothes out of the dryer, think of my T-shirts whose necklines will probably never go back to their original shapes – and enjoy something we often take for granted!

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