The Chefchaouen Laundromat

The laundry facilities at Chefchaouen deserve their own post.  When the river from the ravine reaches town, it is first channeled into a water treatment and distribution facility which feeds the town.  The remaining water runs under the bridge at the top of town, where it splits into three channels: one down the center of the ravine and one to either side.  Along the side channels, women can be seen stomping laundry in tubs or spreading it over the rocks and scrubbing it with brushes.  To rinse, simply plop it back into the channel.  A little further down each channel they’ve built roofed sheds.  The water is channeled into a series of sinks with carved wash boards in them.  The center channel of the river has a very large poured concrete slab, and the water running over it is very shallow.  On the day we arrived in Chefchaouen, they were apparently having a laundry “festival” day to wash rugs.  Beautiful rugs were being scrubbed on the rocks and are then spread across the flat concrete slab for a rinse.  Then comes what I imagine to be the most fun part of the process: dragging that heavy wet rug up those steep hills and steps to a place it can be spread out to dry.  They are spread over the railings of the bridge, the roofs of the laundry sheds, and on the roofs of houses all across town.  It’s a beautiful view.

The next time that the washing machine in my air-conditioned house breaks and I have to get in my air-conditioned car to drive to the local laundromat, I hope I’m given the grace to remember the Chefchaouen laundromat.  If I do, I will count my blessings while I sit in air-conditioned comfort and read a book as machines wash and dry my clothes.

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