Mexican laundromats – las lavanderias – are the bomb. Trust me. But before I go on, haven’t I proven time and time again that I can be trusted?
You walk into a lavanderia, drop a bag of dirty, sweat-drenched, over-worn clothes, and you come back a few hours later. What you find is a (washed) bag. They wash your laundry bag! Inside is a big clear plastic bag with your nice smelling (nice, really nice, like oh-my-god I’ve died and gone to lavender smelling heaven nice) clothes. It’s not just clean, it’s super clean. And folded. FOLDED!
Side note: Nobody, not even Martha-Fucking-Stewart can fold clothes as I can. Fitted bed sheets? Kickass. Undies? Folded uniformly and piled so incredibly perfect, like a neat little stack even Macy’s could never accomplish.
But what about the price you have to ask. This is Mexico. Fifty pesos can feed a family of four. Fifty pesos runs anywhere between $3.70 and $4.50 USD. So a big bag of clothes, with bedsheets, towels, kitchen rags runs at 80 pesos. Math? With the current exchange rate that’s like less than a hamburger, fries and a drink at Five Guys.
Intro done. On with the reason why they call me Maria Blanca.
I feel the need for another side note:
My Spanish is still very ‘See Dick. See Jane. See Spot. Spot plays with ball’. You get the drill. I can conjugate most verbs in the present tense, I handle past with a certain amount of decency, and my vocab is asi-asi (so-so). My attempts at making jokes are hilarious. One sided-hilarious. Joking with Mexicans sounds like a laugh-track off timing on a poor 70s sitcom. They laugh, loudly, but not always on time. Which makes you think they are either laughing AT you, or have a different sense of funnies. Or… they laugh an awkward nervous laugh “why is this whitey still talking to me, why is she smiling, what does she want, if I laugh at her she may go away hahahaha”.
During my first visit at the laundromat, when I dropped my smelly bag off, they asked me my name. “Maria” I said. They told me there was a lot of Maria’s in town. Obviously, this is Mexico. They asked my last name. When I told them my real name they looked at me with many question marks in lieu of eyes. I went the easy route and said “Blanca”. I pointed at my skin. I assumed it was clear and that to them, we are all just ghostly white.
In my creative and self-proclaimed genius mind, I made a great joke. It was intended as a wink-wink telling them, it’s okay, I know I’m very white, let’s use it. They laughed, “Ha ha!” I was proud. I made a joke they understood.
TWO – WEEKS – LATER!
My husband and I are walking with a cruiser friend on our way to the local carneceria (butcher). A woman runs down the street hailing me “Maria! Maria!” I turn around, it’s the laundry lady, but she’s in a different part of town. She tells me she now has her own place, and wants my business. I tell her as soon as my shit stinks enough, I’ll be happy to unload it on her. I’m a very civil tourist, always glad to help new entrepreneurs take care of my tighty whities.
The cruiser friend is shocked, he looks at me and says “Are YOU Maria Blanca?”
“Of course,” I say, shaking my head “Everybody knows that!”
“She’s been asking me over and over about you, and I told her I didn’t know any Maria Blanca’s!” I don’t feel it necessary to add that he pronounced it without rolling the r.
My attempt at a joke: fail! She really thought my last name was Blanca. Not as in color-of-my-skin white, but Blanca like Jones or Thompson. So wherever I go, and am required to provide a full name – unless it’s an official visit such as with my sexy gynecologist who dresses like a hot cougar in a rave – I give them my new Mexican name of Maria Blanca.
It’s better than the direct translation of my real name which would be Maria Punta. That makes me sound like I should dress just as my gynecologist does. Maria Punta is the chick you want to be sucking jell-o shots right out of her navel. Maria Blanca is more pure.
On second thought, the Blanca may not be entirely fitting either, unless we talk color.