Dry Cleaning Adventures in Africa

2008 > Ghana

It’s not easy to get your pants dry-cleaned in Accra

morton dry cleaning
The sign I was seeking
nice suit
How does he clean that?
When I travel, I travel light. It doesn’t matter if I am gone for a week or a month, I generally take the same amount of clothes, both because I never check my bags and because I don’t need that many clothes.

First, when I am traveling, it’s rare that I will see the same people twice. I am often moving too fast through a country for anyone to remember my outfits. Second, even if they did, they will not mind. Most cultures outside the USA expect that you have a limited wardrobe, and even less options when traveling. Last but not least, there is this great invention – laundry service – that can either be done alone, in the shower, or by a hotel.

By my third week in Africa, I had already washed my clothes several times, but I had not the chance to dry clean a pair of pants. My only dry clean only item, these pants were a mainstay of my attire, being both dressy and quite cool. And yet after two weeks, they were not quite that clean.

So mid-day on a Friday, when I could not get though to confirm my next appointment, I decided it was time to dry clean my pants. The day before, I had asked around at Busy Internet, and heard of a reputable dry cleaner, Morton Dry Cleaners in Asylum Down, the neighbourhood where I was staying in Accra.

Yet on Friday, when I asked to go there, the taxi driver didn’t know where the dry cleaner was – he didn’t even know what dry cleaning is! He kept offering to have his wife wash my pants, so when I got to Asylum Down, I started walking, looking for Morton’s by asking people as I went.

It turns out that few Ghanaians know about dry cleaning. Repeated queries of people, cabbies, and even a baby at one frustrating point just gave me stares, vague pointing, and a general refusal to admit they didn’t have a clue. I finally saw someone walking by with a dry cleaned outfit and asked them where the cleaners were.

Up on a hill, I saw the Morton Dry Cleaning sign, and although I was now soaked with sweat, I was happy to know I would have clean pants. I dropped them off, asking for a Monday delivery, as this weekend, I was Togo bound with Efex Executive.

But don’t think this story ends to nicely. When I went to pick them up at 7am on Tuesday (they were to be ready on Monday) the pants were nowhere to be found. A shouting match later, they promised they would find them and bring them to me at my hotel by 8am, since I needed to wear them to my full day of meetings on Tuesday. I was also leaving Tuesday afternoon for Nigeria.

I set a time of 8am, and headed back to my hotel to shower and pack. Just as I tried to call the dry cleaners, livid that yet again, Africans didn’t know time, the Morton guy arrived with my clean pants.

The best part: the delivery guy came back after handing me the pants just to say “We’re at your service when you need dry cleaning again”. Like I want to have another Ghana dry cleaning experience.

One Comment on “Dry Cleaning Adventures in Africa

  1. Good point.

    When I went to Pune, India about a year ago American Airlines lost my luggage. After a week, conventional wisdom suggested that I would never see that roller bag again. After two weeks that bag eventually turned up. The funny thing (if there is a funny thing about wearing the same thing for two weeks) was that my wardrobe during that time perfectly acceptable to the locals. The point here, my next month long trip to Pune, I am not bringing a bag.