Today is the first day of August, and Friday after work marked the official start of the “Vacaciones Augostinos,” August Vacation week in El Salvador. Today is also Sunday, but being as it’s Sunday for me every day, I decided to “make hay while the sun shines” and get some serious washing done. Here in Los Planes, in the rainy season, it can take 2 days to dry a load of clothes (a type of babysitting: put them out, take them in, out, in, out, in…), so when the sun comes out strong, women here run to the Pila (washing sink), washing as much clothing as they can in a race to get them sun bathed and dry.
My husband set off for Chalatenango yesterday to see about getting the car fixed and stay at the in-laws while there, so I (stealthily) decided to wash his nappy old mattress and cover against his strict orders not to.
First, I’ll explain how mattresses work here: most people in El Salvador do not sleep on the Sealy Posturepedic style mattress us American Folk have grown to know and love. The majority of people here sleep on mattresses anywhere between 2 and 4 inches thick, on top of a bed with not a box spring, but a nylon type netting that it sets upon. If no bed, then the floor. Mattresses of this size are especially convenient considering the number of people who often sleep to a room and unexpected guests who drop in (say, 5 or more at a time – like two parents and their 3++ kids). Storage is simple: just stick one mattress on top of another on the bed, like Penelope and the pea, and you’re all set – a thicker mattress to sleep on when stacked, or a multitude of instant beds at a moment’s notice.
This mattress we no longer sleep on is a souvenir of our days-gone-bye in the department of Chalatenango (thank you, Lawd!), which my husband brought with us in the recent move to Los Planes (de Renderos). The bed and mattress were bought 15 some odd years ago, so by the time my husband and I slept on it, the nylon netting had started to go in various places, and my husband joked and called it a “personal” (one person only) bed. On nights when I wanted to get cozy with him (the couch being a more comfy alternative), he being the heavier of us, sank to the lowest part of the bed where the netting had stretched towards the floor, so I would find myself leaning towards, and almost falling into him, from the steep downward slope.
The mattress so dear to my husband had an animal mishap shortly after we moved (need I say more?). So I washed the whole thing (for the first time) some days back in the tub portion of the Pila (washing sink). Good thing for the thinness of the mattress – its 2.5 inches thick at best, but in most places this elaborated sponge has compacted into a 1 inch or less mass easily bendable for washing.
But then the rain came. And we set the dear mattress to dry upstairs inside. Forgotten for a day or two and not turned over, it did what you’d expect an old sponge to do when moist and drying ever so slowly – stiiiiiiink!
That didn’t bother hubby at all. No worries, just fold it back into its cover, lay it on the floor, and presto! A lounger to watch TV on. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
The stink of the mattress became a contagion – anything set on it, like bedding, blankets, the new pillow and pillowcase recently bought, even my sweatpants, stank of the spreading o-dour.
I marched forward with my decision to wash it AGAIN. And had a slight mishap. We have two clothes lines close to one other, so I draped the mattress over both, hoping for a quicker dry. Some time after I set the souvenir sponge out to dry, a large chunk on one line severed from its parent on the other…RIIIIIP! The Forbidden washing had led to collateral damage.
If that weren’t enough, I draped it under the house on a window rail after it began raining and the dog shredded a corner of it!
By now you’re probably thinking “Just BURN the damn thing!” My sentiments exactly, but if cleaning it is prohibited, what punishment is in store for setting it afire? I dared not.
Now that I’ve cleaned it, ripped it, dog eaten a corner of it, I must sew it, and hope it will not shred with the upcoming needlework… I’ll have it happily tucked into its cover before hubby comes home and he won’t be the wiser.
Good Job! The mattress, in multiple parts, had four seams.
In the spirit of not wasting in El Salvador, the effort was not futile.