Long ago, in my last life as a wife (It’s only been three years but it seems like a century ago since he died) the pink bag was for my dirty clothes. I made the bag myself out of sturdy pink cotton. Bob had a gray bag for his clothes. They were light and folded up small. On the sailboat they went inside our duffle bags with all our clean clothes. As we traveled the bags grew full of dirty clothes and found their own places in the sailboat until we found a laundromat where we could carefully watch them get washed and then dried.
Now I spend six months on the road, and my clothes have to fit into my suitcases. The clothes are from all over the world. There is a sarong from the pacific islands, colorful cotton pantaloons from Australia. Two silk shirts one sleeveless and purple another long sleeved and green. Three pairs of back cotton knit pants that slide on and hold me tight like another pair of legs. Two pairs of jeans, one purple with flowers and one blue. Two cotton nighties, one from a zoo with a bear giving me a hug, the other white cotton sleeveless with lace for the heat of Australia. Numerous underwear, and socks, none bikini style, those silly things would rub on my c-section scar. T-shirts from various times and places, a very special one from the pottery studio in Austin Texas that showed the hands of a potter with the words, “its not pots we’re making, but ourselves.”
My brother and I had been gone for four days from our rustic airbub in Monteverde to get warm on the beach. I’d left my pink dirty clothes bags full of clothes on the cement floor of the cabin. When I returned and picked it up and I screamed.
“Ants are eating my clothes.” I raced out onto the porch and shook out each item. “Look at my pottery shirt they’re eating it up.” The image of pots and the words, were chewed full of holes. I dug further, “Shit, shit shit.” I muttered as I shook ants out of my new knit pants.
My pottery shirt all with the image eaten away
How I longed to go to a laundromat and wash my own clothes. But there didn’t seem to be any such thing in Monteverde. Xinia, my hostess who runs the airbub would wash my clothes for a fee, but I wanted to wash my own clothes and hang them up myself. In Australia they let tourists do that, there are machines and lines to wash your clothes and hang them up, but not here. I went through all my clothes again shaking each one and finding a few more ants, and holey underpants.
Xinia washed my clothes and I counted my losses. Two holey (they are not holy sorry spell check) underpants still wearable eight others untouched. A memorable T-shirt trashed, a knit top and one pair of black knit pants for the trash bin, not too bad. I carefully hung up my new shirt I’d purchased in Jaco on the beach made from banana fibers. It felt like silk. During the night it fell on the floor and it too, got three little holes chewed in it. I texted Lizzie my friend in Australia, she consoled me saying, “Well it will be a conversation piece.”
The next time we went away on a trip my now holey pink bag was again full of dirty clothes. I hoped I’d find a laundry at our hotel where I could wash my own clothes. We were gone five days. They had a laundry that would wash shirts for $2.00 each and pants for $3.00. I think I had $100 worth of washing in my pink bag, so they came back with me to Monteverde nicely sterilized by sitting in a hot car.
After three hours of hot bumpy driving we finally arrived home in Monteverde. Xiniia had her clothes on the line. It looked like it was going to rain, and she was not home. I decided to take her dry clothes down and put them on the porch. After they came home. I waited a few minutes and then explained in my broken Spanish, “Ropa este aqui.” Using my hands I tried to show rain falling. Xinia laughed, as I pointed to her clothes on the porch.
“Si, mucho gracias.” she clasped her hand together with a big smile.
I used google translate to talk to Xinia. I typed, “We are back, I tried to find a place to wash clothes but I couldn’t find any. Please let me help wash clothes tomorrow.”
She shook her head no. She had to work tomorrow. I was desperate, for I didn’t have any more clean clothes at all, not even chewed up ones. The conversation part of google translate actually worked. “I said please wash them tonight and let me hang them up in the morning. I don’t have any clean clothes.”
She agreed for 5,000 colones (about $9.00) she would wash my clothes and I would hang them up in the morning. I went to sleep dreaming of hanging up my own clothes. When I woke up at 7:00 am and opened the front door, there were my clothes hanging on the line. Unable to wash clothes I sat down to write their story.