Saturday, December 18, 2010


Given that my last mani/pedi was in June, I only just hit my threshold/6 month limit and decided that it was absolutely vital that I pamper myself. To the point where, for about 15 minutes this morning, I was considering driving 2 hours to and from Kigali just so I could treat myself to a mani/pedi at one of the hotels while Marvin was dropping off Ro and Zack at the airport. Thankfully, Nathalie corrected my assumption that there was no place for a mani/pedi in Musanze before I jumped in the car headed to Kigali.

So instead of a 2 hour, vomit-inducing car ride (update: I’ve developed motion sickness since moving to Rwanda), I took a 2 minute moto-ride into town. Consolate led me to her usual hair “saloon,” and, I can only assume, told them that the white girl in tow wanted a manicure and pedicure. In retrospect, I realized that I probably didn’t really need Consolate to chaperone/translate for me, since I rarely understand manicure/pedicure artists in the states, but it was nice to have her guidance to navigate through the crowded and stuffy saloon.

The mani/pedi itself was surprisingly nice. I was initially skeptical when I wasn’t put in a massage chair with a bubbly basin at my feet, and Consolate translated for me that the guy doing it asked “What do you want?”

“Umm, what do you mean what do I want? A manicure and pedicure…does he not know what that is?”

Whatever clarification he was looking for, I didn’t give it to him – but he still functioned quite well. Complete with nail strengthening serum, a wash basin of warm soapy water, and a hand massage.

I felt delightfully pampered – which is much, much more than I can say about all the other women in the salon. Everything they were doing just looked … so painful. This was not the peppy, bright Vogue-ready salon that I’m used to. First, it was very dark and crowded. Second, most of the stylists were (straight) men – and there was a soccer game playing in the background. (Potentially because nothing else is ever on the 3 TV channels.) Third, I think all the women were one threshold of pain away from screaming and punching their stylist.

They were all either getting their hair relaxed or braided. I’m going to go ahead and say it: I’ve never been happier to have limp, greasy, bone-straight, only partially blonde hair. Because at least when I go to the hairdresser, it does not take two people to pull at my roots hard enough to make sure that my braids are in tight. Nor does somebody use an actual needle to thread extensions into my roots. And I just can’t talk about the ones who were getting their hair relaxed; suffice it to say that I will forever have nightmares with visions of the worst hair day possible, and being forced to comb through snarls with the finest toothed comb imaginable. WHO WOULD DO THAT TO THEMSELVES?! IS BEAUTY ACTUALLY THAT IMPORTANT?! (Oh right…I guess it is.)

Not only was I a sight because I’m white (over it)…but I’m sure that all the women I the salon were staring at me in wonder of why I would come there to enjoy myself. How could you associate the place that pulls your hair out of its roots – en masse – with pampering and comfort?

Je ne sais pas (update: I haven’t gone to French lessons in like 3 weeks – so much for that attempt), but maybe I’ll start asking. At ~$4 for a fairly decent mani/pedi, I might start going through this routine a little more often than once every 6 months.

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