I now live in an apartment that has a dishwasher, a washing machine and a dryer. These things can all run simultaneously, in any weather and at any time of the day. Sometimes, when everything is running, I like to just sit and listen to the sweet sound of my work being done for me. Even as I write this post, I can here the swish of the dishwasher, the buzz of the washing machine and the clicking tumble of the dryer. It’s a modern household symphony. These are the little things that you learn to appreciate once you’ve lived without them. In the village in PNG, this is what my washing machine and dishwasher combo looked like:
And the same water was also my bathtub too but don’t worry, I always bathed after washing my clothes and dishes. The dryer looked a bit like this:
The little girls weren’t always a part of the system but on this day in particular, the post holding up the clothesline broke so the girls were just standing in while someone went to get us a new tree.
Now washing machines, dryers and dish washers all exist in Papua New Guinea. In the cities moreso than the villages but you can buy them and run them as long as you can afford the electricity and water. Some people (mostly expats) even have these conveniences out in the village but they definitely aren’t the norm. And in the cities, it is more common to have a washing machine but not a dishwasher or a dryer.
In the US, going without these modern conveniences is now part of a trend to use less electricity and unnecessary water. Not running your dryer can save you a bundle as well as washing dishes by hand. It is good for your budget and the environment. And even though I know this, I still take great pleasure in listening to the machines working for me. My towels are fluffier, my clothes last longer because they spend less time in direct sunlight and to my american sensibilities, things just feel cleaner when not washed in a river. Now I realize that my Papua New Guinean friends aren’t trying to make a political statement when they take their laundry and dishes down to the river, for them it is just a way of life. And maybe that should be a way of life for more of us. But just give me a little longer to enjoy my washing machine, dryer and dishwasher.