There are really two choices when it comes to getting laundry done in Galapagos, the washbasin out back or the laundrymat. Few people have their own washing machine, and I have not heard of anyone owning a dryer, though I am sure most hotels have both. During my last stay in Galapagos, I chose to hand wash and line dry my laundry. It actually made more sense, since I lived and volunteered in the national park outside of town. I will never forget the time I saw a small dead hawk next to the laundry basin. Later, a neighbor told me as she was preparing to wash her laundry she saw the dead hawk floating in the basin. The unfortunate hawk had flown in to get a drink and could not fly out, so it drowned. My neighbor had kindly fished it out and placed it on the side.
This time around, I decided to have my laundry done at a local laundrymat. The laundrymats in Galapagos are not self-serve, so you drop off your bag of clothes, have it weighed, and 24 hour later, you pickup a bag of warm, nicely folded laundry. There are many laundry places to choose from. I go to LavaFlash, where I am always greeted with a smile by Elsa, the owner. She is consistently efficient and friendly, no matter how hot it is outside. In an earlier entry I mentioned that air conditioning is virtually unheard of in Galapagos, so you can imagine the temperatures in the laundrymat when the outdoor temperatures are in the high 80’s.
Aside from the convenience of having the laundry washed, dried and folded for just one dollar per pound, there is another reason for not hand washing the laundry out back. This year has been an especially hot and humid year, so the mosquito population has increased tremendously. The standing water in the basin is an attractive breeding ground. Seeing that we already have plenty of mosquitoes living with us, we are really not interested in having more. A friend is doing research on the types of diseases carried by mosquitoes in Galapagos. His research group has four mosquito collection sites (one on Isabela Island, one on San Cristobal Island and two on Santa Cruz Island). I knew we had a lot mosquitoes in our house when one evening a group of us were sitting around the table talking and he stood up, pulled out a matchbox and started carefully collecting mosquito specimens. When collecting mosquito samples, you cannot swat them because you need to have the body intact to study it. He joked that perhaps our house could be the fifth mosquito collection site. Clearly, Elsa’s laundry service is the way to go.