Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Taken to the Cleaners

The ‘Laverap’ is a generic term and an Americas institution. ‘Lave’ as in wash and ‘rap’ as in fold and sometimes iron. You’ll see the hand-painted board at the side of the road pointing to an innocent house, an anonymous shed, an unlikely shop, a garage forecourt. There all collection points for the cleaners. We’re down and out in Potosi, in an hostal with no clothes washing basins, so it seems like time to experience this institution. Much of our ‘ropa’ has undergone cursory hand washing, with the occasional assault on trouser seats with a scrubbing brush. It’s a lick and a promise, a light freshen up. But leather saddle stains require a heavy duty chemical attack. So gathering up all that we’re not actually wearing, we head of to find the place. This isn’t Whitehorse, Yukon, where we sat in the laundrette in our swimming costumes, watching the sum total of our garments go round and round. Potosi is at 4,000 metres, it’s too Catholic, too cold for that. Weigh the load, collect the docket, come back at six. So simple.

It’s when we get back to our
room that night, I’m delighted to see that our kit has acquired a Bolivian touch. You wish to identify and assert ownership of your llamas? Tie brightly coloured wool to their chest or ears. Want to identify a customers clothing in a mixed wash load? Do the same. All our items now come with a vivid purple woollen thread.