Sunday, April 25, 2010

Welcome to Portugal Part II

This is the second installment in an as yet undecided-part series about my exploits and energy observations in Portugal.

Part II: Where's the dryer?

The Portuguese are exceedingly practical when it comes to using the sun to dry their clothes. It came as a surprise to me since growing up in the U.S., most (if not all) families had both a washer and a dryer, and if not there were laundromats. (Sidebar: I would question the logic of adopting clothesline drying in my hometown near Washington, DC since most warm months are accompanied by such high humidity that it would make line drying take about as long as drying your laundry in a bathtub full of hot water.) Line drying works amazingly fast when it is sunny and dry, though. And it is so satisfying to take dry warm clothes off the line that you know took absolutely no electricity to dry. (Maybe I derive satisfaction in different ways than most people, though. It's a possibility.)

However, there is one flaw in the plan. Much like winter seems to take Portugal by surprise each year (by my experience of n=1 years), two to three-week bouts of rain make line drying laundry difficult if not impossible during January, February, and March. My roommates and I would race to the washer at the first sign of a sunny day, keeping an eye on the weather report as we put our clothes out to dry, and more than once racing to pull them down as it became clear our luck with the sun had run out. During one particularly long rainy spell, where I had used up virtually all of my clean clothes, I decided to use a laundromat. But upon asking a few Portuguese how to do this, getting some blank looks and "what is a laundromat?" questions, my only other timely option was to go to a dry cleaners. This expedition cost me about 20 euros for the equivalent of 2 loads of laundry - washed, dried, and folded. Lesson learned. My advice: when you come to Portugal for the winter, make sure you bring plenty of clean underwear. Or, you might want to open a would have my business.

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