Ricky Kresslein



In Fiji, most things are a bit more difficult than they are in America. A Fijian I was speaking with summed it up nicely when he said, “We struggle. Not like you people.”

Take doing the laundry for example. For everyday wear like jeans and t-shirts, we throw a bundle of clothes in the washing machine, and some detergent, and push start. With the touch of a knob we can even add an extra rinse cycle. Then, when the buzzer goes off, we switch the clothes to the dryer and an hour or so later we have clean, dry clothes, all done while we watched TV and ate potato chips (or carrot sticks for the hippies). If the clothes are a bit more delicate we might take them to a drycleaner to have them properly dealt with.

In Fiji, laundry is not so simple. First, I must throw all my dirty clothes in a bucket, add detergent, fill it with water, and mix them around until all the detergent powder is dissolved. Then I let them soak. Usually I do this at night so I can continue in the morning, but if I do it during the day I usually let them soak for 3-4 hours. Then I have to take the clothes out one by one, wring it out, and beat it on a concrete slab under running water until it is no longer soapy.

Once all of the clothes are soap free and wrung out, it is time to hang them up to dry. Because it is so humid in Fiji, laundry is best done on a sunny, windy day or the clothes will take forever to dry. Occasionally, after doing my laundry and hanging it on the line, a bright sunny day will suddenly become a cloudy, rainy day. This is why nearly every household also has an indoor clothesline.

My indoor clothesline is in my bathroom. When clothes have no chance of drying outside due to the rain, I move them inside, improving their chances to slight. Only during strong winds that pierce through the small gaps between roof and wall, and after many hours do clothes ever dry on the inside line. Then I pick the clothes off the line and hang them on the bamboo rod I like to call my “closet”.

It is not just laundry that is more difficult here. Sweeping, cleaning, cooking, any menial task you dread in America is ten times harder here. So, next time you complain about having to do the laundry, remember me pounding my clothes against the floor.

Forgot to mention there isn’t a destination here between clothes Americans would wash at home and those they would bring to the dry cleaner.