Monday, August 30, 2010

Baking and Laundry in Benin

I just wanted to share with all you Americans how to do laundry by hand (in Benin) and how to bake without an oven!

1. Evenly fill a giant pot with 2-3inches of sand.
2. Place 2-3 small (tuna/tomato paste size) empty cans face down in the center of the pot.
3. Place lid on pot then put pot on burner with low to medium flame (pre-heating stage).
4. Prepare your dough and place in a small baking dish.
5. Place baking dish on cans, making sure it does not touch the sides of the pot.
6. Return lid and bake for probably double the time it would normally take.
(Variation: turn your baking dish upside down for a baking sheet).


Sunday is my 'Laundry Day'
There are two ways, the first few weeks I did it the way my Mama taught me:

Real Beninese Way
1. Separate clothes by color, things you fear may 'bleed' (new tisu for example), and what is absolutely necessary, because laundry is a PAIN. I for example have yet to wash the jeans I wore in Philadelphia.
2. Take 3-5 items, dunk in water, then scrub each item with a bar of laundry soap, collar, armits, etc. Mix around in the soapy water, knead the clothes, etc.
3. Squeeze excess water from each item of clothing then move to a new bucket with clean water. Soap again (not as much), knead clothes, etc.
4. Squeeze out each item again and put in a different basin with clean water, mix around, 'rinse.'
5. Squeeze excess water from each item again and put into another 'rinse' basin, hopefully get all of the soap out.
6. Squeeze excess water and hang everything to dry and pray that it doesn't dump rain (which it inevitably will).
**Your hands will be raw and red and throbbing**

My New, Easier (I think) Way
1. Buy laundry powder soap
2. Dump powder in bucket and fill with water
3. If any of the clothes you want to wash have stains, rub water and bar soap on the stain, or if anything is really dirty, scrub appropriate area with bar soap (I think I'll be getting a stain stick from America soon, YAY).
4. Place similar color clothing in bucket, swish around, dunk, put lid on bucket and let set for an hour or two or however long you want.
5. One by one remove items and squeeze out excess water.
6. In a shallow basin with 1-2 inches of clean water, rinse clothes one-by-one.
7. Rinse twice, and hang to dry.
**Hands will still be red and raw with this method**

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