Immigrants with clotheslines.

Yes, that’s us. That’s our backyard. We’re immigrants, hanging clothes out like generations of immigrants have done. Which they mostly can’t do in the USA anymore because of idiotic regulations.

Immigrants with clotheslines. Yes, that’s us.

I finally put up the outdoor clotheslines today. Just in time for some wash for the workweek. Because to my still-amazement and amusement, I have a workweek again, starting tomorrow. Clean underwear, not so much. Hence the clothesline.

Couple of points from this:

First – Hallelujah! No Condo Board, no HOA, no landlord telling me it’s against the rules to have a clothesline. Where we lived in Colorado, the HOA-from-Hell not only banned clotheslines, they banned having any washer-dryer in your condo, which you owned, unless you bought their specific nearly-$2000 USD unvented washer/dryer single inefficient unit. And either gave up your dishwasher, or your coat closet, the only two approved installation locations. Of course you had to pay them an inspection/approval fee, and a yearly fee for the right to wash your clothes.

Where we used to own, in Brookline, Mass., the queen bee of the condo board and his wife would have had conniptions if you dared hang a sock out your window, and they too charged for the right to own your own washer-dryer in your own home.

Here, nobody cares. Sure, we rent our little casita, but there’s not a single ban on anything in the lease. There’s also not much of an obligation on the dueño either; a previous post explained how a bad kitchen faucet was our problem not his. Essentially it’s “you pay for the right to live as if it were your house”, other than he has lawn service, and did fix the construction defects of a miswired breaker panel and an ill-fitting entrance door. But nobody cared nor asked permission for anything. Not which type and size of water heater and exactly where to drill and mount in in the bathroom shower stall. As long as the hoses reach the fitting and the plug reaches the live 230 volt outlet in the shower (yes!), it’s all good.

Doña Ramonita in the next unit didn’t need permission to have both a local TV antenna and DirecTV (yes, the same company as USA) on her roof with cables in holes drilled through the nice brick/stone facade to both her living room and bedroom.(Not that anyone in Atlántida would deny Doña Ramonita anything, but that is a tale for a different day.) Graciela, the 82-year old widow on our other side, didn’t ask nor need permission to put her antenna on the side wall, nor a “split” air-conditioner/heat-pump outside unit on her roof, with the cooling hose and drainage hose to the indoor above-window condenser wall-mount unit drilled through the brick. So my clothes lines are a no-brainer. Wait till I get my Ham Radio and shortwave rigs down here, and put up my antennas!

Tax-paid semi-socialized healthcare with a “private option”, and a few government monopolies on things like telecom (semi-monopoly), electric, gasoline/diesel (semi-monopoly), cooking/heating gas (semi-monopoly), and clean water. So that we can’t lose power from an Enron losing money, can’t be priced out of affording water by a Vivendi raising water bills to pay for investing in movie/tv companies (they used to own NBC Universal.) Have a social good of affordable cooking/heating fuel rather than profiteering.  Otherwise libertarian as hell! It’s a dream combo!

Don’t need motorcycle/scooter helmets (about 40% wear them, about the same as US ski slopes have helmet wearers by choice.) Nobody except maybe tiny kids have bike helmets. Which means riding your bike isn’t a big deal that needs equipment you need to schlep around when you get off your bike. Instead, like back in “Eisenhower’s American” (and Kennedy’s, Johnson’s, Nixon’s, Ford’s, and maybe even the start of Carter’s), using a bike is a mode of transportation, not an activity to go do with lots of consumerism and fear-of-doing-it “stuff” to buy.

Do have to use headlights at all times on major roads – that helps you see and helps somebody else not get killed by you. Don’t have to have airbags in cars – that just helps you, and really it doesn’t. Remember children being decapitated once the US mandated airbags?  Remember how the original airbag argument was as a “passive restraint” for people who don’t choose to wear seatbelts, and it was a replacement for those useless  “automatic seatbelts” in the doors? Now, you have to wear a seatbelt to protect yourself from injury from the airbag. And the requirement for airbags has led to lots of airbag-theft crime.

Want airbags in your car in Uruguay? No problem. Buy the model that comes with airbags. Most of the affordable cars, whether Chinese brands (often assembled here or in other Mercosur countries), or even US/European/Japanese/Korean brands, come in standard or “Full” levels. For example the Chevrolet Agile (a brilliant, should-be-in-USA very small crossover) comes without airbags in the basic level and with airbags in the “Full”. Same with the Effa/Changhe Ideal II semi-Full-vs-Full, the BYD (“Build Your Dreams” Chinese brand) F0 for U$S11,990 without airbags or 12,990 Full with them.

Yes, this all flows from my clothesline-without-permission-needed. It’s an attitude and philosophy of life. We have each other’s overall welfare in common, but as to personal choices, just take responsibility and don’t be a busybody.

Second – expat economy: Doing things the way our parents or grandparents did is a big part of making your personal “expat economy” affordable. (Or “immigrant economy” if you, like me, prefer being an immigrant to where you are, rather than self-defining as where you have left.)

It may mean doing your own laundry, even by hand as we currently do. We certainly could get a washer, but I don’t yet know what type I want, whether simple low-energy semiautomatic, an automatic but in the compact/portable South-American style, or (least likely), a typical “American-style” washer. But hang-drying the clothes in the sun and fresh breeze is a huge energy savings, even at US electric pricing. Now double that for Uruguay power costs. Plus it’s healthier! Sunlight is the best disinfectant. The clothes smell of “fresh breeze” without paying money for unknown chemicals in your bottle of “fresh breeze” fabric softener. In your non-biodegradable bottle. So a clothes dryer (“secaropas”) is not at on the horizon.

The freedom to make your own choices. And a wider variety of products in the marketplace (even if arguably fewer total products) to fit into your personal economy. We lost those in the USA. We’re finding them in Uruguay.

Published by

Mark Mercer

Site co-owner Mark Mercer. AKA Marcos Cristoforo Mercer, AKA the Fuzzy Wanderer. Expat from USA living in Uruguay as of mid-2012, after "test-driving" it for a few months in 2011 and early 2012. Married to Lisamaria, AKA well-known travel and fitness writer Lisa Marie Mercer. Follow Mark on Twitter @mcmxs and his many other sites, which you can find at I write and engage about many of my other interests, on Google+ at

5 thoughts on “Immigrants with clotheslines.”

  1. Hi…
    Wonder if you have info about obtaining a ham radio license in Uruguay or if you have had success doing so?


    1. I haven't gotten around to that yet. Most of my gear is in storage with family in the States. I did contact by email to the Radio Club of Uruguay to get some info. There is a permit I need to get, I cannot just go on the air as CX1/KC2ZI.

  2. Hi Mark,

    In case you have not yet obtained your CX license in Uruguay: I got mine through Radio Grupo Sur ( ). Talk to their Secretary: Lupo Baños CX2ABC at

    Though a VE-lander for over four decades, I was born in CX-land and visit there often.

    Enjoy Uruguay…!


    1. Thanks, and sorry for the delay in reply, it's been a busy couple of weeks. No, I haven't gotten it yet, and no, I haven't actually operated from here, just monitored. My main rig is in my son's garage near San Francisco at present, waiting for my next run back to the States in a couple of months or so. 73!

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