I got my hair did – Rwanda style. My great friend Anabel has a sister named Lis who owns her own saloon. (It’s really a salon, not a bar…) I called her and made an appointment. Her saloon is a small single room with 3 walls and a curtain for an entrance. It’s very clean and has a couple of chairs and a long bench in it. I went in and looked at several pictures of different hairstyles (none of which had any white women posing). I told Lis : “Um, whatever you think.”
[This was my thought process: Whatever happens, it can’t be anything that an American professional hairdresser can’t fix or that won’t grow back….. Hey, when in Rome...right?]
So Lis sent her assistant on a bus-taxi into town because she didn’t have any blonde weave in stock – and why would she?
“Is weave necessary? Can’t you just use my hair?”
Her response was clear – we needed weave. Ooookeedokee. You know, I am not the adventurous one when it comes to my hair. I have had (more or less) the same haircut my whole life. Longish and natural. I’ve never colored it and I’ve never had it shorter than my shoulders. I’m a total chicken when it comes to doing anything more than a trim. Ryan on the other hand….. J
So while we waited for her assistant to come back, Lis insisted on doing my eyebrows.
“Yes! They are out of control! Wait. You don’t use wax? Or tweezers? Or even the string? You want to use what? A SURGICAL BLADE? On my EYEBROWS? Uhhhh, yeah, okay. Go ahead. Don’t cut me… Wait, are you for real?”
She was. And she did. And they look great.
Her assistant returned and they got to work. 2 women; 4 hands; 4 ½ nonstop hours (that’s 9 man-hours!!) of pulling and tugging from all directions later, I finally saw the finished product. I’ve got me some braids. Lots of them. They’re fun. Or “unbeWEAVEable” as Ryan says. I came home and had to take some Ibuprofen because my head was so sore. In fact, 24 hours later it is STILL sore. These women are tough.
I’ve gotten an interesting reaction from the locals. They actually stare less. I must look like one of them. Last night I went into a couple of stores to look for a clip to help tame my out-of-control braids but couldn’t find one. However, the women were all far more helpful than usual and one even offered her ponytail tie out of her own hair. No thank you. I have one of those.
So between my weave, riding motorcycle-taxis (which I can’t anymore because I’m pretty sure my head won’t fit in a helmet…), and occasionally mixing up our personal pronouns (him, her, he, she) we are officially Rwandan. Now excuse me while I make some breakfast of porridge and bananas and put on a sweater because its 75 degrees outside….