What not to do on a bad hair day abroad


“Does anyone know of a good hairdresser in Lima?”    Someone had typed in on the Lonely Planet community web site.  The request was followed up with “I’m really sorry for asking such a trivial question.”    

I felt for her as I was in the same situation and didn’t think it was an inane question at all.   I’d been travelling for over three months in Ecuador and Peru and my hair was beginning to look like an out of control shrub that needed a good clipping.   The areas that I’d visited so far were known for their beauty in terms of scenery rather than salons and I too was getting a bit desperate for a cut and colour.   Had she posted the plea a few weeks later I could have given her the name of a hairdresser in Lima who’d struck up a conversation with me on a bus.  After exchanging pleasantries he gave me his card and proceeded to reel a list of things off that needed doing to my hair to restore it to its former blonde sleek state.  He named a very reasonable price and declared that he would throw in a hair treatment for free.  It was a bargain but unfortunately I had already booked my bus out of the city for the next day and had to pass.  However, it did reinforce the fact that my hair was a mess.  It must have been if a local hairdresser was so horrified by it that he had to pick me up on a bus and offer a haircut and free products.  I needed to take action.    

I’m sure the ladies reading this will understand when I say that going to a new hairdresser is always a trauma.  I’ve had some shocking haircuts in the past including one that made me look like a boy.  I was playing in a cricket sixes tournament at the time and the first sign that the haircut wasn’t working for me was when the barman called me “young man”.  The second sign was when our win was reported in the local paper (my bowling confounded the batsmen so much that often they went LBW) and listed me as a Mr under the team picture.   My partner had a similar thing happen to him many many years ago, has never been to a hairdresser since and cuts his own hair.  Definitely an over-reaction but I decided rather than risk going to a hairdresser in a country that doesn’t understand the needs of a mousy blond, I would follow his example and do it myself.   I bought some hair dye and borrowed his scissors.  The dye worked a treat and the cut looked amazing – for a day then settled into a style reminiscent of a scarecrow.   After that I decided just to touch up my hair colour every couple of months and leave the scissors alone. 

Three months later when we were staying in Buenos Aires in Argentina I decided the time had come get a proper cut.  I figured that if there was any where in South America that may be able to cope with my hair it was there.  We were also heading for Thailand and some serious partying so I needed to look a little more presentable.  I psyched myself up and booked myself in at a random hair salon.   The owner was delightful and between my shocking Spanish, a lot of hand waving and pointing at pictures we reached an understanding of what was required.  The day arrived, and after a couple of sedatives to keep me calm during the ordeal I set off for the appointment.  The owner took it upon herself to cut my hair, I think the novelty of a foreigner in her salon was too hard to resist, and luckily for me one of the other customers spoke English and was happy to translate.  Despite my fears she did a great job.  Well the fringe took a little getting used to ……… and it was a little short, but then I always get a shock when I see my face after a cut!

 Arriving back in Australia the first thing I did was to book an appointment with my usual hairdresser.   Having warned him about abuse I had subjected my hair to over the last 13 months, he was, surprisingly, calm as I walked through the door.   So now I’m am back to my blond, slightly messy style that is versatile for work and play.  But you know what, on reflection I think I prefer my wild woman of the hills look – it was a lot less boring.

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