Thursday was my day off this week. Kelly and I decided to take a trip to Principe Pio Mall, do some shopping and get our hair cut before heading to Troy and Heather's for dinner. The shopping was great, I finally found denim capris, although I probably won't be able to wear them much longer this season as it is already the middle of September, oh well, I don't think they'll be out of style by next spring. Anyway, after walking around for a bit we headed for Marco Aldany, the hair salon. Kelly has already successfully survived a Spanish haircut from this same place so she was feeling much more confident than I. I was very nervous for a couple of reasons. One, have you ever seen a young Spaniard? More likely than not they either have a mullet, a Mohawk, dreads, a rat tail, or some other bizarre hair cut that I can't even describe in words. Basically most hairstyles are hideous here. I didn't want one of these, I figure I already stand out enough just being a foreigner. The other thing that made me nervous is that you usually have to talk to the person cutting your hair to tell them what you want. Granted, I have learned quite a bit of Spanish since I've been here, however I am still very limited in what I know how to say, especially when it comes to "hair Spanish." I did try to prepare and had a small sheet of paper with vocabulary written on it that I thought I might need. It helped some, but it didn't prevent me from being the freak in the hair salon.
Let me just give you the play-by-play. The instant I get in the salon, they know I am a foreigner. I sit in a chair waiting for the next available person to wash my hair. The girls seems nice enough and asks if I'm there for a cut or dye. In broken nervous Spanish I convey that I am there for a cut. She sets me up in the chair and leans me back to shampoo and condition. So far it's ok. As she's washing my hair I notice that she is picking at my scalp. This isn't normal. I also notice that my back is getting wet from the wash. I was wearing a short sleeve shirt under a long sleeve shirt. By the time the wash was done both shirts were soaked down to the middle of my back. This is still not too bad, I can live with this. Now I am sent over to the guy with the dreadlocked mullet rat tail to cut my hair. Before that happens however, the hair washing girl picks at my scalp some more and shows it to the hair cut guy. Last week at the park my head got burned and it was peeling some. I also have incredibly dry skin so I know that this is what they are looking at. In their simplest Spanish they try to explain that I need this extra treatment because it is "very good for your head." I agree just because I don't know how to argue enough to say no. They apply the special serum and I sit for five minutes so it can thoroughly burn my scalp and anyone who didn't notice me before can stop and stare. Finally, the serum is rinsed and it is time to tell the hair cut guy how I want my hair cut. I explain (in Spanish of course) that I want it to start at the top of my neck and then angle down to my chin. After repeating this a few times with hand motions he looks at me points at the top of my neck and says "Vale, una punta" (literally ok, at a point). I say ok and start praying. In my mind I am picturing my hair coming to a sharp point at the back of my head forming an upside down V. I just sit and try to relax as I notice multiple hair stylists stopping by to learn a little from my hair cut man, check out my scalp, and try out their English on me. It's going smoothly until the hair cut guy cuts his hand with the scissors. I've never seen this happen before. He takes a break to clean the wound and apply a band-aid, then continues on. Finally he's done cutting and starts to style, without asking. It's ok, I usually like to have them style my hair for me so I can get an idea how to do it myself even though it costs extra. Finally, the cut is finished, I pay, and walk out feeling much lighter. I've lost some hair, and a burden has been lifted, I've successfully made it through my first Spanish hair cut. I love it!