It used to be known as Blue Monday per the drudgery of going back to work after a relaxing weekend, or perhaps the use of bluing and starch. For these women at the public washing tubs, there are very few moments of relaxation, other than the occasional Mass at the nearby church or the dubious pleasures of making tortillas by hand.
The water flows freely, the tubs are available to any or all(or pilas, as they’re known in espanol) and it is a moment where some quiet time and gossip can be shared. The rivers are too far away and the rocks too harsh on the Mayan fabrics so carefully woven by hand. It isn’t a laundramat in any sense of the word, with no coin-fed machines nor little boxes of detergent to choose from.
The sun will dry the clothes and lunch is available a few steps away. The trees provide some shade and the lawn is a quiet place for children to play while their mothers work. Antigua is blessed with such a place known as the Tanque Verde(green tank)where the local aquifers are collected.
Pilas, or wash tubs, are a fact of daily life in Guatemala: every local hardware store provides double basin concrete models on a pedestal, in plain, red and blue versions, and their presence is noted in the oldest of homes, as well as the newest. It’s a way of life.