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July 16, 2008 Blanket Boogie

The dozens upon dozens of people who came to pay their respects after MaHallu’s funeral put a lot of wear and tear (and dirt) on the rugs and blankets of my host family’s house, but now that the condolence visits have come to a finish, it’s time to clean up. When you wash king-sized blankets or rugs without a washing machine, you need to go through several … steps.
And if you’re me, those might turn into dance steps. :)

First you get the blanket soaked through. That takes pouring bucketful after bucketful of water over it. Then you pour over it a concentrated mixture of Tide and water, which you pound into the fibers of the blanket. Literally pound. Ama uses a blunt bat-shaped stick and just whales on the poor thing. Once the Tide is enmeshed in the blanket threads, it needs to be agitated a bit. If this were a small item of clothing, you could just rub it between your fists for a moment. But it’s a blanket. So you step on it.

The first several blankets, I just watched the process and poured bucketfuls of water where and when I was told to. Bucket brigade, that was me. But once I knew the drill, I suggested a slight change: instead of just walking on the blankets to churn the soap into suds, why not dance on it?
Xalti never really got into it, but Ama and I were gettin’ down. And the blankets were getting suds’d, so it was a win-win situation.

When the blanket has been stepp’d enough, you pour another few dozen bucketfuls of water over it to rinse it, then roll it tightly, pouring more water with each roll, to wring out as much of the soapy water as possible.

Hang them on the line to dry, and safi!

I was a little amazed by how much effort went into all this, but Ama reassured me that this is a once-a-year chore. And besides, it was an excuse to dance, so you know I was having a good time.

Ama commented that I dance like the women of Morocco; I told her that my first host family loved to dance in the evenings, and invited me to participate, plus, in the States, I took belly dancing classes. (Well, since I have no idea how to say “belly dancing” in Tamazight, literally what I said was, “I danced with a teacher who knew the dances of Egypt.” And then I did a shimmy, so she’d know what I was talking about. She said, “Yes, that’s how they dance in Egypt. And this is how we dance in Morocco…”)

Laundry has never been so much fun. :)

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