It's amazing the things that seem "essential" in some parts of the world that are pure luxuries in others; washing machines and dryers are one example. Prior to this week our laundry options have included our cold water sink and a line for drying outside in the ridiculous humidity (in other words - nothing completely dried - ever), or bringing our dirty clothes into town by bus where a laundry service (pictured, left) would wash/dry/fold them for 50 cents a kilo. Therefore, when we first moved to Ecuador we learned to ask an important money/time saving question - how often do clothes need to be washed....really?
Though the main house on the property we live on is one of the nicest on the coast, and only about 20 years old, it was not built with laundry hook up facilities so they are having to do some work to get them officially installed. Washer/dryer are not assumed "necessities" even in the nicest homes in Ecuador. The priorities are different; for example, the area that is now being converted into a laundry room was part of the original maid quarters for the home. The property still has "live in" help, as remains common for "nicer" homes in Ecuador, but they have their own small house at the top of the property.
I remember one time when we found out that a poorer family of 7 in the States didn't have a washer/dryer in their home. I was horrified and immediately concerned that we help them find one! In large cities in the States personal washer/dryers aren't as necessary or common but in the part of Texas I grew up in - having a washer/dryer in your home seemed fundamental. They were cheap on Craigslist after all and laundromats must cost more in the long run!
Well, travelling is all about perspective-change. Never has it seemed "natural" that we should have access to a washer/dryer and now that we do - it feels really strange! Just another one of those things on our list that we are thankful to have the opportunity to recognize as a luxury instead of confusing it as a necessity as we would in our homeland.
We are so thankful for the opportunity to be able to be grateful for the "little things," that really aren't that "little" afterall. We are thankful for the convenience of being able to use a washer/dryer for our last month or so before we head back to the States for the wedding but we remain more thankful for the lessons we learned from going without such luxuries for the past 4 months.