Braiding Party

Monrovia Travel Blog

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Erika and I are sitting really still as they start work on our hair

My friend Erika talked me into getting my hair done with her and another OR nurse, Tish.  One of our translaters, Hawa, offered to take us to a couple of her friends who are hairdressers.  The way the Africans braid our hair is with hair extension, it allows them to then fuse the ends instead of tying them and also makes our hair look fuller.  So when we met up with Hawa in the morning we went to the market and bought hair.  My hair was easy, cause its dark and it ended up matching my hair perfectly.  Erika is blonde, but they did have her color, or something really close.  Tish has long hair to begin with and opted not to get extensions.  We then went to Hawa's brother's house and camped out in the living room.

7 hours later, there is no smile on my face as I endure the worst pain ever!
  By 10 one of the hairdresser arrived and started on Erika's hair.  She took a small piece of hair and added the fake hair and braided it all together, making it go down to the middle of her back.  An hour later, another hairdresser came and started on me.  I have to say that it was the most painful thing I have ever endure and I don't plan on doing it again any time soon.  Its very reminiscence of a torture session.  Here I was sitting in a hard back chair for 7 hours (yes people, it was 7 hours, straight, from 11:15-6:30- I timed it), no food, no water, people pulling my hair really really hard.  Where was the Geneva Convention when you need it?   The whole time I was thinking, Why did I let Erika talk me into this?  And how am I gonna get this out?  

What made the day fun though was watching the Liberian women interact.

Every body gathers around Tish to get her hair done
  Soon we had about 7 girls and about 4 kids hanging out in the living room.  We watched TV; CNN which turned into WWE (which everyone watches over here), then Mean Girls and then American Gospel shows from the 80's.  The girls swarmed around our heads and chitchatted away, laughing and giggling.  We couldn't understand what they were saying, cause their accents were so strong and they were talking really fast.  Hawa acted as our translator most of the time.  I can't imagine braiding someone's hair for 7 hours straight- we took no breaks- and not get tired.  But these girls were amazing. 

The last 45 minutes was the toughest.  Erika was done and I wanted to be done too.  I now had 3 people working on my hair, pulling really hard in all directions and to make it worse, they were doing the baby hairs on the top of my head by the hair line.

The finishing steps, dipping my hair into boiling water to set the ends
  My legs and butt were numb, my neck was hurting from being pulled back and it was all I could do not to jump up and run out the door screaming, "NO MORE! NO MORE!"  But I didn't and I eventually got done, with the braiding part.  Then they took big scissors and trimmed every single braid making it look neat.  Then they lead me outside and sat me in a chair and dunk my hair into a cup of boiling water to set the ends.  After that they gave me a hair cut, dunk my hair in the water again and called me finished.  Or so I thought.  When they were done, my hair went to my mid back, the longest I'd ever had my hair.  I had braids hanging in my face and they were too big and stiff to tuck behind my ear so they just hung there, until the girls decided to do something about it.
Erika's new look
  They wanted to style my hair.  I never though styling my hair would be so painful, but my scalp was so tender by this point.  I endured it though and had them tie the top back. 

With that finally being done we went back in to help with Tish's hair.  Since we weren't putting in extensions, we were just braiding it, but with 'small small' braids. I think there were 5 people on her head at once.  Hawa made us supper of rice, jalapenos and spam, our first meal in 11 hours.  Then at 7:30, we  said our goodbyes, paid our hairdressers ($15 each), said thank you and got a cab and headed back to the ship.  It was a long day.

Now I have a massive head.  I feel like my head is huge and very long.  Everybody says it looks really good, the best they've seen on a white person.  My head is still tender and I'm kinda worried how I'll sleep tonight.  We tried to watch a movie, but we kept falling asleep, so I think its time for bed now.

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Erika and I are sitting really sti…
Erika and I are sitting really st…
7 hours later, there is no smile o…
7 hours later, there is no smile …
Every body gathers around Tish to …
Every body gathers around Tish to…
The finishing steps, dipping my ha…
The finishing steps, dipping my h…
Erikas new look
Erika's new look
Hawa and me after its all done
Hawa and me after its all done
All done!  Tish, Erika and Hawa
All done! Tish, Erika and Hawa
photo by: ulis