Kerri and Ms Robyn were curious about the story behind the hair disaster, photos of which my mum posted the other day. So here it is. I’d post more pics, but they’re in Canberra. Mum, that’s not an invitation for you to post any…
In 1999 I spent almost six months in Africa. This was the end of the round-the-world, being-an-eternal-bum experience that lasted about seven years. This time, I wanted to travel the ‘easy way’ through Africa – no bribing officials at borders or hiding money in my underwear so I didn’t have to declare it at each new country I entered. So for some of the trip I joined one of the truck tours that are so rampant throughout Africa now. These are trucks that are bought by (usually) British companies in Africa and converted so that they can carry lots of people (picture from http://www.overlandingafrica.com/vehicles-equipment.php). One huge disadvantage of travelling in one of these trucks (among many others) is the wind. And the dust. And the combination of these and short-ish hair (too long to be short, but too short to tie up) meant that each evening my hair would resemble something close to a bird’s nest). So I thought about it for a while (I’m sure it was at least an hour) and then decided that Dar es Salaam would be a fantastic place to leave all my hair behind (picture from www.middleofeverywhere.com/ AFRICA3.HTM).
After several beers were bought for me (as encouragement, I suppose) a friend started hacking off all my hair. Then she got the clippers and got rid of all of it. It felt really strange and for the next two days I couldn’t take my hands off my head – nor could I look in the mirror. I remember having to apply a higher strength sunscreen to my scalp than the rest of me until my skin colour evened up. Many of the locals looked at me with some concern, and a few asked me how ill I was, assuming I had cancer – I didn’t consider the fact that very few African women would shave their heads by choice.
Several weeks later, in Botswana (picture from www.offroad-reisen.com/. ../RS-BTW-Camp.htm), my hair was TOO LONG! So I had it shaved off again. I decided then that that would be the last time. If I was to go home and get a respectable job and all, surely I’d need some hair to make a decent first impression (as it turned out I went to university where nobody cares what you look like). When I got back to Australia, my hair was at the ‘can’t do anything with it’ stage. I got my younger sister to colour it and it went a pretty awful colour. So I then went to a hairdresser so she could colour it a more decent colour AND cut it into something normal. The hairdresser failed miserably (though she knew she failed without actually admitting it, and didn’t charge me for the colour). I was stuck with the horrible-ness until well into my first year of uni. And I was stuck with that horrible-ness on my student card photograph until my final year of uni when I begged the admin office for a new photo.