|Driving around, we yelled to two gentlemen sitting outside, “Uomo Barbiere?” They kindly pointed us in the direction of this salon, serving the needs of women (donna) and men (uomo)|
Yesterday, while driving around Pescia, Italy, searching for a barbershop, it dawned on us that most likely Tom will need a haircut in each country in which we’ll live for a period of two to three months.
Leaving the US last January, we’ve since lived in two countries for approximately three months, Belize and now Italy, (we were in the United Arab Emirates for only two weeks). By next July, we’ll have added four more countries in which we’ve lived, a mere pittance based on the number of countries in the world.
Prior to leaving Scottsdale, Arizona where we resided for two months, he’d had his final US haircut for a very long time. So far, his favorite was the haircut in Belize with Joel McKenzie, under the tree on the plastic chair atop the cement blocks. If you haven’t seen these photos, look for the post in the archives from March 13, 2013.
Most guys have a regular barber they see at certain intervals. For some, the quality of the cut is less important than others. For Tom, with his full head of thick, almost white hair, it matters. It matters to me as well, more that he’s happy with it than my having to look at him all day and night.
Luckily, I am able to take care of my own hair, manicures, and pedicures. I learned this years ago when I found myself squirming impatiently in a beauty salon, anxious for it to be over. This is quite helpful now as we travel. Plus, it saves tons of money better spent on other more important aspects of our daily lives.
|Tom, relaxing and ready for his haircut with Barbara.|
The Euro $20 (US $26.06) he paid for his haircut included a 30% tip, although he wasn’t thrilled with the cut, definitely no fault of the stylist. Most certainly, it was a result of the language barrier. We learned a valuable lesson yesterday: translate what one would like done in advance, showing it to the barber or stylist before they begin cutting, if possible, including photos.
Fortunately, the upcoming haircuts he’ll need will be in Kenya and South Africa where English is spoken freely. In Morocco, we’ll have staff that will translate for us.
After Morocco, we’ll be in Madeira, Portugal for almost three months where Portuguese is spoken. We’ll translate instructions at that time. So far, we know one Portuguese word, “obrigada” which translates to “thank you.” We’d better start working on a few more words.
|Smiling and hopeful for an easy summer “do” Tom was at ease.|
Between us, we’ve learned enough hand signals and Italian words that enabled us to carry-on somewhat of a conversation with “Barbara” pronounced bar-ber-a) yesterday as she cut Tom’s hair. She told us in Italian that she grew up in Pescia, has three children, 8, 13, and 16, a husband, and has been a stylist for both men and women for 20 years. While at the salon, we met her 13 years old “bambini” hoping she spoke English. No such luck.
Barbara asked us, about us, where we were from, where we were going. Dumbfounded, Tom and I looked at each other wondering how to explain. Somehow, we managed to convey that we are living in Boveglio for the summer, are traveling to Africa soon, have four adult children and six grandchildren.
Hand signals conveyed the grandchildren’s part. I had yet to hear the word for grandchildren which I’ve since researched in Google Translate. It’s “nipoti.” Some words make sense in translation, reminding us of a word in another language; English, French, or Spanish. This one, I couldn’t get for the life of me.
|Lots of Tom’s gray hair on the floor.|
Apparently, our communication methods didn’t serve us well enough. As Barbara neared the end of Tom’s haircut, the top standing straight up, she asked if he’s like some “butch wax” while holding up the container. He cringed shaking his head an emphatic “no” all the while with a forced smile on his face.
Later, in the car, he said, “I didn’t want to look like Bob’s Big Boy. She was going in that direction!”
I agreed that was true, based on the photo he’d shown her. When packing for our flight from Dubai to Barcelona in June, we’d tossed an 8-ounce tube of hair gel. Bringing it along would have cost another $5 in excess luggage fees. Thus, we’d have had no way to maintain Bob, had he liked that look.
Here it is, the haircut. Maybe in a few days, it will take shape. I’ve offered to reduce the length of the top for him. He declined my offer.
|“Give it a few days,” I said.|
Having perused a substantial book of men’s haircuts while he sat in the chair, we observed all youngish chisel faced models in their 20’s. There was nary a cut befitting a mature adult male. The one he ultimately chose, had the sides cut as he’d prefer, but the top was definitely in the Bob category. Trying to explain this to Barbara was fruitless. We couldn’t come up with anything other than a “scissors snipping” hand signal to take more off of the top
We take full responsibility for the cut. Barbara is surely a very fine stylist. My well-intended interference and our lack of communication skills inspired the end result. He’ll live with it and see what happens in three months from now in Kenya.
Living in the world is a never-ending lesson. Some experienced travelers we’ve met over the years talk as if they have it all figured out. We’ll never figure it all out. Each area, each country has its own unique customs, modes of living, and nuances that one can only become privy to over a long period of time.
Two to three months in any country will never be long enough to learn the language and those nuances, that in the end, for us, make it all the more enjoyable.