Saturday, September 3, 2011

It All Comes Out in the Wash

Clothes dryers are a rarity in Southern Spain (possibly rare in Northern Spain, too).  Self-service launderettes are apparently rare here, as well. A week’s worth of laundry done by a professional service costs between 18 and 43 euros — that’s between $27 and $65 (local laundry as opposed to El Corte Ingles), so that’s not a practical option, although it’s what we did during our entire hotel stay. For large items (like linens and towels), finding a self-service laundry in the neighborhood is still a priority for us.  But, we have an excellent clothes washer in the kitchen and a clothesline outside the window.  


Even our ritzy friend, Albert, does his laundry this way.  He can’t comprehend why Americans would "ruin" our clothes (and waste all that electricity) to machine-dry.  So, today, I took another step toward becoming Sevillano.  I did a load of shirts and hung them on the line.  We’ll have to pick up a drying rack for the bathroom.  In the’70s, I remember sitting and drinking beer in my sister’s backyard in South Yorkshire while I watched her hang clothes on the line.  This is the first time I’ve ever done it myself.  Such incredible excitement!

Before leaving California, we contracted with a shipping company to send to Spain our five pieces of furniture and multiple boxes of cooking supplies, books, art, and other miscellany.  We obtained quotes from two different companies.  The first company was huge, with an international body that handled everything from start to finish. The price tag was also huge. 

The second company was still quite large, but contracted out the components of the move, shipping to England where the Customs process was a breeze and then drop-shipping to Spain.  Their quote was about one third the price.  In our situation (a lack of independent wealth), it was a no-brainer.

And that’s exactly what it’s turned out to be, a process with no brains.  Jerry was told delivery around August 1 would be no problem.  The rep in Florida was a very nice guy, but not quick to respond to Jerry’s emails or phone calls.  He always had some good reason for his delay. And he was always very prompt to respond or follow up when a payment was required.


Once the items were shipped, Jerry began to work with a rep from a partner company in England.  He had the same first name as the rep in Florida (let’s just call them “John”).  He also had the same response-time problem, along with the same ability to have a good excuse on hand. English John asked if a large truck could get to the address. Jerry said that no large truck could fit anywhere near our street.  It took weeks of calls from Jerry to English John to get a delivery date.  On or around 1 September, we were finally told.

Thursday night at 11, I received a call from the driver saying he would be here around 9 Friday morning.  He asked me if there was room on our street for his very large lorry.  I told him absolutely not.  In the morning, the driver rang our bell.  He had walked about a half mile from where he had left his very, very large lorry. He spoke no Spanish except to ask me when I answered the buzzer in Spanish, “Hoe-lah. Ha-blow in-glaze?” 

This one cannot be blamed on our lack of Spanish competency.

To wind up a long, boring, whiney story, our stuff will be driven to Malaga tomorrow where it will be moved to a smaller truck and sent the two hours back up to be delivered on Friday. Jerry and I wrote a scathing letter (well, scathing is an exaggeration) to the two “Johns” we contracted with.  Frustrating, but obviously not tragic — and still worth the hugely lower price tag.  Less than a week and we’ll have our stuff… we hope!


After lounging in bed all morning, we discovered we had no food in the house.  So we went downstairs at noon for breakfast. We came back upstairs, we reviewed and Jerry sent the “Dear Johns” letter, and I had my very satisfying encounter with the clothesline.  


A few ours later, we took a stroll in the neighborhood, did some shopping, and then stopped at Café Santa Marta for a late lunch.  They have excellent paella and tortillas (egg and potato “pie” here as opposed to the tortillas of Mexico).  We had both.  Jerry’s two Coca Cola Lites were the most expensive part of the meal.  My beer (a small glass is called “una caña”), Jerry’s sodas, two tapas portions of paella, and our shared tortilla — and the cost was significantly less than a simple lunch at Burker King — and so much better.  Amazing.  And delicious.



  1. Ah, clotheslines. I remember 'em well. I may get one for our backyard, as i, too, like the idea of the clothes drying naturally, not being ruined, and saving electricity.

    As for the food.
    Oh lord, paella!
    And, lucky for me, Carlos makes a mean tortilla!

    Glad your stuff will be arriving after it's world tour!

  2. Hello Mitch:
    A clothes' dryer or outdoor washing line is such aboon andone's clothes smell wonderfully fresh after being aired outdoors. We can recommend it!

    What a thrill it will be to be reunited with your things at last. Rather like Christmas coming early unopening all those packages!!

  3. Oh my...exploring new restaurants sounds so amazing to me. And secretly, I've always wanted to fall asleep in crisp, sun dried clean sheets. Let me know if the novelty wears off :)

  4. Bob:
    I don't think we'll mind much hanging our clothes out on the line (or IN on the line when the weather is bad). No doubt we've got the time!

    It will definitely be like Christmas, especially since three tubs of Christmas things will be included. The only problem with line-drying is that Jerry goes through A LOT of clothes every week!

    Falling asleep in crisp, sun-dried clean sheets sounds great. Doing one load at a time in our little machine and then hanging them everywhere in the house in bad weather does not! Oh, but the restaurants. We have so many choices in our neighborhood alone, we don't know where to begin.

  5. Line dried clothes are the way to go. The only time I would use a dryer is during bad weather or if I want to shrink something.

  6. I've seen photos of the clothes lines high above in alley ways, it always looks so colorful and beautiful to me....

    Jeepers, I dont know how u r staying as calm as u r without yout things...hopefully it will all be solved now?


  7. Mind of Mine:
    And have you ever noticed that the clothes you WANT to shrink never do?

    The clothes lines initially reminded ME of NY tenements! I'm adjusting. And I wouldn't say I'm always staying so calm. I (well WE) have our moments. This week coming up should be busy and I hope fruitful (delivery of stuff, TV installation, internet and landline installation). Maybe we'll at least accomplish one of the three. Two would be amazing. Three and I might need a sedative. Hugs back to you!

  8. Clotheslines are a signature of Maritime culture in our province. Someone even wrote a book a la beautious pictures inside. I use one all summer. When the cooler weather arrives I can't use it anymore because everyone seems to use wood around here to heat their homes which gets into the clothes and therefore re-wash time...annoying. The food looks so healthy and cheap..amazing. I believe you'll have a house full of furniture very soon...really!

  9. It's normal in Europe that every household has its own washer, and some have dryers too.

    Have been washing my own clothes now over 30 years, and never bothered to get a dryer. Shirts and sheets are dry within 6 hours, so wash in the evening when the electricity is cheaper and iron them in the morning when you're still fresh...

  10. Big trucks- small spaces, ahhhh, wanna talk moving day anxiety!

    Bye the way, careful line drying in the sun, towels can turn out like sandpaper, and jeans will stand up alone if not careful (bad for underwear!) The extraction dryers in france, need NO vents, and are good on a rainy winter day.

    I used to compare notes on Broadway Openings with my friends! LOL

  11. That's a pity about the moronic shipping company. But I agree that it's worth the extra pain for the large cost savings. Lunch looks fabulous.
    We have a large (10KG) dryer which we use for towels (they get too hard drying on the line outside) and for regular laundry on rainy days,but if the weather is good, I try to dry the laundry outside. It smells wonderful.

  12. sophie...^5:
    Smoked laundry, unlike smoked salmon, would NOT be pleasant. My mother said we didn't initially have a dryer in our first house. She washed my brother's diapers and hung them out on the line only to come back an hour later to find that birds had crapped all over them. They went out and bought a dryer the next day.

    Thanks for the advice (that I read AFTER i threw in a load of clothes at 10 in the morning)! As for ironing, Jerry doesn't mind that as much as I do; maybe he'll take that on.

    Oh, no, I could end up taking our stuff to El Corte Ingles afterall!

    Hmmm... sounds like towels may not be best line-dried. I've got to find a cheap laundry nearby. I took the clothes off the line last night and, you're right, they smelled wonderful.

  13. Too funny Mitch...the ol' clean laundry crapola'd by des oiseaux!

  14. sophie...^5:
    And my mother mentioned something about ducks!

  15. There is nothing better than sheets that have dried outside.

    Hope you get your furniture soon.

  16. Nubian:
    I'm going to give sheets a try today. Right now I'm enjoying the novelty. We'll see how long it lasts — especially when the weather isn't as conducive to drying the laundry outside. Furniture Friday... more or less!

  17. One of my 'duties', being from a family of 9 kids, was to hang out the clothes. I was obviously tall enough to reach the clothesline by then. You know what? I found it to be very therapeutic (not knowing that at the time of course). And still do we always 'hang' our clothes when the weather permits.
    Mitch, I think you are on the cusp of a wonderful that may just change your life! Seriously, enjoy it but make sure that when you are hanging items that they are all 'grouped together' and matching. You'll

  18. Jim:
    I'm from a family of 3 kids. I took care of my brother; my mother took care of the laundry! I, so far, am definitely enjoying the novelty. I will try, however, to avoid becoming caught up in the aesthetics of my clothesline (or I could get REALLY carried away).

  19. We do have a dryer, but we use it rarely. Clothes go out on the line from spring through fall, and inside on lines and racks in the laundry room in winter (and in inclement weather). It saves on electricity!

  20. Walt the Fourth:
    And what an exciting afternoon. I just found out that we have access to our roof with communal clotheslines! (And spectacular views of the city.)

  21. I love hanging out washing and the fresh air smell of the dry clothes........sadly here in Derbyshire the weather is so rubbish I have to use the drier more often than not ~ otherwise I spend my whole day pegging stuff out, fetching it back in, pegging it out again ~ then have to dry it indoors on the rack and it starts to smell fusty if it takes so long to dry and it has to be the drier is easier in the end.

  22. Jean:
    I remember my sister -- who lived in South Yorkshire -- always complaining about needing to haul the laundry back in (and quite often rewash it ) because of the rains and drizzles. Lots of sun here. Right now, I'm still enjoying my new laundry adventure. We'll see how long it lasts!

  23. Well hello there! It was such a huge pleasure to visit this personal blog and especially to read this article. Also I want to know one thing. Have you ever practiced guest blogging?

    1. Hi CrunchyDiamond:
      Thanks for the visit and the compliments! I've never experienced guest blogging myself.


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