Today I got to wash my clothing. Something us "first world citizens" take for granted are washing machines - elsewhere, it's your own blood and sweat that get you to look all squeaky clean. I had two buckets - one with some soap mixed in water, and the other with just water. I only had a week's worth of clothing, but it still took an hour or two to rub my clothing together furiously to get them relatively clean. I am still trying to figure out how exactly to maximize the cleanliness of my clothing. Dust is in the air here pretty instensely, especially in the more local Rwandan areas, it seems. Some areas are maintained very well, but other parts are just dirt roads and lots of people. I live in the latter. So my clothing has a lot of dirt in it. Figuring out how to get that stuff out of my clothes while I scrub the pieces of fabric with my fists is going to be a new, exciting challenge for me.
My clothing are now dripping on the clotheslines in the back of the house; I feel like I just passed a rite here, for some quirky reason. Perhaps because I'm showing that living simply and basically can work. Or at least, I'm trying to do that.
People here are extremely resourceful, based on my observations. My US housemate noted to me how the clotheslines in the back were from random things that normally us Americans would take for granted and toss, like twine that was used to wrap large pieces of fabric. Interestingly, while Rwandans are good at re-using, recycling here doesn't really exist at all. And reducing seems to be something you could debate about if it's an issue or not- to me, they either don't have the resources to reduce anymore, or if they do, they don't seem to use a lot of things anyways.
And there are no plastic bags here. If you go to the shop, you either buy a fabric bag to take away your stuff, or they pack it in a paper bag. Often times, you end up paying for any bags you use. I am so glad I thought about that before I left and that I have my handy fabric bag that I haul around with me.