Fifty thousand pesos for a haircut. Now I've always understood that a lady's coiffure comes with some form of premium, some mystical tribute that lies far beyond the wit of the male of the species. And if we know what is good for us, we don't argue. We can't because our brains are utterly clogged with trying to remember that said spouse has gone to said establishment and our job is to comment favourably on said procedure. Even if it's not obvious that any said procedure has been carried out. Fifty thousand pesos Chilean, or so the chalked up statement claims from the window, that translates as fifty-five pounds sterling, The Navigator decides to pass on this offer. We were in La Serena, an address that seems to have a near magical, inflating effect on a price sticker.
It's quite difficult for the Navigator, who likes to look neat on tour, she knows what happens to her hair when left to its own devices, so it's difficult to convince a stylist that she does really want a certain amount of length to be removed. It's actually why she came into your establishment, "to get a hair cut". On some occasions I've known her to take in her passport photograph to use as a visual aid in translation and interpretation. Ladies with short hair are in a minority in a South American country, witness her interrogation by two school girls on the campground one evening. "Why is your hair short?" Difficult to explain even in English. On that occasion I was given permission to wield the sheers, to trim the wayward wisps that are curling into an annoyance. That was a first.
The obvious solution would be to engage the specialist in short hair trimming: to wit: a gentleman's barber. She tried that once, I can still see the horror on the man's face. Man cuts men's hair, woman grooms women's hair. Machimiso rules...okay.
I, on the other hand, have little problem. It's a: '# 2' all over. The buzz cut. Easily accomplished with a pair of scissors held on edge. Well I can't see the end result, that, and I wear a cap. The 'problem', is trying to buy a pair that haven't been used to cut steel bar first and then returned to their original sales packaging.
Hair cuts on tour can be an adventure. We have one friend who considers a country not properly explored, until a full facial exfoliation and cranial trim are experienced. In New Zealand I've under gone the 'shearer's special', wo-'man handled' like a Merino tup. It was probably revenge for not requiring a styling. In the US I was offered - and declined - the eyebrow procedure. More pampering than barbering. It's still the most expensive clip I've undergone. It's why the Navigator has another addition on her traveler's resume. Over the years, look what I've saved - possibly a return flight to South America.
A few more weeks have passed, tomorrow is 'old year's night'. The time when the Scottish puritanicals clean out the fire grate, sweep the floors, open all the cupboard doors, to evict all that bad energy. In Colombia you could take an empty suitcase for a walk around the block to ensure a year of travel. Or go in for a bit of effigy burning in Ecador, hurl a dozen pennies in Guatemala, wear yellow knickers in Peru, try to swallow a grape for each bell chime in Spain, jump seven waves for luck or just eat lentils for wealth accumulation here in Chile. The Navigator decides that she needs to initiate her own lucky ritual. The time has come when a hair cropping is an imperative. A good luck cut. A chance to shed a shaggy cloak, to start a new year back in an old persona.
It will have given the ' peluquera' something to talk about, when was the last time she cut white hair? At least she didn't put on sunglasses. The result is adequate, although the Navigator thought it might have been worth while walking further down the street, going into the next establishment and getting it cut again, so ensuring it ends up at her desired length. They really are terrified of cutting it short. Still, she can go into the next year suitably shorn, with our wealth as suitably protected, for it came with a local's tariff.