“You caught me,” he says to me as I step into the yard of the Hub. One of the refugees is hanging about ten items of clothing on the single clothesline we have in our backyard. I smile at him, unaware that I’ve caught a man with his hand in the cookie jar, but he explains himself to me.
At the Hotspot, all of the laundry must be washed by hand because there are no washing machines or places to clean your clothes. But, worst of all, when you’re finished washing your clothing, you need to hang it up to dry outside. With so many people living in the containers, there is no room to dry your clean clothing indoors.
When I drive by Hotspot, I often see makeshift lines of clothing hanging between different structures. Something that didn’t factor into my brain though, until I came across my friend hanging his clothes outside, was that you need to be aware of your surroundings at all times. With the moisture from the sea constantly in the air, clothing is never in a hurry to dry. And with so many people in the camp, leaving your clothing unmonitored can result in their disappearance, as my friend had learned the hard way.
He told me that he had brought his wet clothes to school because if he hung them up at the Hotspot, he would have to spend the entire day watching the clothes dry. He’s done this before, many times. He’s lost his clothing before because he didn’t stay with it while it was drying.
This sounded absolutely ludicrous to me, but then again, it also seems right in line with the refugee experience.
Even for me, laundry is a hassle. There is a washing machine in my flat, but there isn’t a drier. Obviously, I like this because it is environmentally friendly, but it does drastically increase the amount of time that it takes for clothing to dry. A drier may take an hour, but having to put clothing on the line takes an extraordinary amount of time. The scenery from my apartment is phenomenal, a picturesque view of a sparkling blue bay, accented by a neighboring island and stoney brown outcroppings atop an adjacent hill. There is a constant (wet) sea breeze blowing in from the bay on my terrace where I hang my clothes. The wind constantly keeps things moving, but the moisture in the air doesn’t let anything dry. The breeze is so strong; however, that clothing is constantly ripped from the line and goes plummeting into the bushes and trees two floors below. I’ve, more than once, gone picking through the vegetation to recover table clothes, towels, shirts, and sheets.
At the end of the day, returning from work, after twelve or more hours in the sun and blowing in the wind, the clothes are never dry. So, often, we volunteers move the clothing inside and put it on or near our radiators. This works a little bit better for drying things out, but it never works perfectly and then moisture gets trapped inside, which creates new issues. Alas, I have no problems compared to those who live in the camp. My clothing is still in my possession when I return home at the end of the day.
Bring your clothing to the Hub anytime, my friend, I’ll watch ’em for ya.