Sudsing Up

Today is laundry day here in Pierre Payen. Okay, not ALL of Pierre Payen, just our house. The normal routine goes something like this…

9 am Camilla arrives for the day.
Camilla gets the broom and sweeps out the outdoor shower.
Camilla gets the big wash basins out.
Camilla asks for the key for the depot/shed to get the garden hose out.
Camilla gets the soap and takes a cup full of it outside to the shower where she washes.
Camilla asks me why we don’t have soap.
I remind Camilla that she didn’t tell me at the end of the last wash day that we needed soap so I didn’t put it on the list for Yonese to get at the market.
Camilla goes outside to wash, by hand.

Now, you might be slightly confused about the soap. See, in Haiti there are several kinds of soap, and they all have their own name and purpose. I am learning about this. First of all you have fab, which is powdered laundry detergent. Then you have savon, which is the bar soap you would normally use with a washboard. Here they ball it up and rub it in. There is also several kinds of round hard soaps that get used for washing. Then, you get the blue stuff. It comes in a small block or bigger round bar. You use it to whiten whites. Your head is probably swimming right now. Yes, mine does too. It’s all very complicated. The best part about all of it is that they will use at least 3, but usually more, of these products in any given laundry setting.

In the last year we’ve been working at not having bleach used on our clothes. We’ve also been working at not having Mistolin used on our clothes. Mistolin is household cleaner. You know, for washing floors and cleaning your bathroom. Think Mr. Clean. Yes, I only wish I were joking. Yonese, is the more educated and reasonable one of the two ladies that work in the house. She’s also the one that goes to the market. It’s kind of been fun teaching her about some of these things and explaining why you really shouldn’t use household cleaner on your clothes. She said it was to disinfect things because there’s stuff in the water. I can understand that now. We explained to her that when you let your clothes dry in the sun it kills everything anyway so you don’t need to “disinfect” your wardrobe.

We don’t have a dryer, everything hangs in the sun. In theory this is good. Haiti is humid though, so some things take longer to dry. In the rainy season my laundry sometimes sits on the line for several days. Part of it is that just as it’s almost dry it rains and we have to start all over again. The other part is that bringing in the laundry and folding it is my LEAST favorite chores. Seriously, I will gladly scrub toilets any day.

Last week Camilla came in the house and said, “Chris, the soap doesn’t work! There aren’t enough bubbles…” I had bought some different soap because I didn’t know we were out until after Yonese had gone to the market. The soap was fine, it just didn’t foam like crazy. I had to stifle laughter. We both did. The reason it was funny for us is we know how much fab gets used to wash. Consider that we are only two people. Occassionally we have a week of visitors. In that case there are sheets and towels. Sometimes when it’s really hot and we sweat a lot we change clothes several times a day. We buy our laundry detergent in BIG sacks, probably about a 30 lb bag. One sack usually lasts us about 2-3 months. In case you’re having problems with the math, it looks something like this…


36 (aprox. 3 loads/week) x 3 months
÷ 30 lbs of soap = 1.2 lbs of soap for each load OR 3.6 lbs each week.


Now you know why we’re excited about getting a washing machine.

Okay, we don’t have camels. Or men in turbans.

In other Monday happenings…we’re having problems with our generator radiator (say that 10 times really fast). There’s a hole in it, it’s been fixed, but we’re still having problems with it. Chris tried to get one ordered from the HAYTRAC dealership in Port before we went on holidays. We got back, thinking it might be arriving sometime soon. The guy hadn’t even looked into it. BOOOO! After doing some facting and figuring it might actually be more cost effective and efficient for me to fly to Miami, rent a car, buy the rad, and hop back on the plane to Haiti. It’s sad when that’s what other Haitians recommend you do :( We’ve been given some pointers so we’ll try those first to see if it makes the generator work, and if not, then I might be goin’ to Miami, goin’ to Miami…

Now, Liz, I found something just super special for you since you were harassing me so much. I hope you had your fix. Addict.

Click on the picture for something really, really fun…


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This entry was posted in this is haiti, this is life by Leslie. Bookmark the permalink.

About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

2 thoughts on “Sudsing Up

  1. Ok, ask me if I just wasted an hour at work on that awesome game… I did! And I’m going to go home and play some more, forget to eat dinner, and go to bed way too late as a result. It’s awesome!Now if I can just figure out how to not go bankrupt.Oh, and I love this: “If we had to rear all the cattle we need in our part of the world, our cities would drown in an ocean of cow shit. …Remember the old saying: \under every forest there is a lawn”.:

  2. I have so far managed to skeletalize one cow. I didn’t even need any instructions to accomplish this. I think I needed to feed it and they didn’t tell me to do that! What kind of game is this? If you want me to feed pixels to a cow made of pixels you have to tell me.Barb J :)

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