Pelo Afro

When I first got to Barcelona I had a conversation with a Brazilian who spent two years in London. He told me, “No matter how smart you are in your country, you’ll never be smart to the locals in a foreign land (in their eyes) if you don’t speak their language perfectly.” I was recently reminded of this quote. Before I get into that story, I have a different one to tell, beginning with a confession: my beautiful long luxurious locks aren’t real. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, I wear…A WEAVE!

I’ve been in Barcelona for three months now and my hair is starting to look trifflin. I’ve been on the hunt for a black beauty salon; I’ve scoured the streets of Barcelona and done a million google searches (everything from “Black hair Barcelona” to “Pelo Negro España”) but I’ve had no luck.

On Wednesday I was taking the train into the city and I saw this black woman with a decent weave. After fifteen minutes of practicing what I was going to say, I finally mustered up the confidence to ask her, “Perdoneme, donde vas para tu pelo? Necesito un peluqueria.” (Excuse me, where do you go for your hair? I need a hairdresser.) I know my grammar was flawed but I’m positive she got the general idea. Her demeanor was cold and uninviting, but I didn’t care, I was desperate for information. She said that she couldn’t understand me so I repeated the phrase three different ways before she very hesitantly asked me what part of the city I lived in and what I wanted done to my hair (in Spanish, of course). I told her I needed extensions. She said that there were several hairdressers in her neighborhood then she said the name of her neighborhood. I couldn’t understand her (the speed at which Spaniards talk is incredible), so I handed her a pen and paper and asked if she could write down the name of her neighborhood. That’s when she turned into una antipatica (a mean girl). She handed the pen & paper to a stranger and told him that I was looking for a hairdresser. He said he didn’t know of any so I took my pen and paper back and said “Esta bien, no pasa nada” (It’s ok, don’t worry) then they both laughed at me.

Afterward this sweet man behind me asked if I needed help finding a hairdresser (in Spanish). I told him yes but I needed someone who could do extensions. He said, “Vaya, es complicado” (oh, that’s complicated). I said, “Yeah, I know” and thanked him for his effort. When I reached my destination I told my friend what happened on the train and how embarrassing it was and he told me that I should be proud that I just had an entire conversation about hair extensions in Spanish. On a brighter note, today Marta’s sister told me about a couple of places where I can find hairdressers “para pelo afro.” I’m going to check them out on Monday, wish me luck!

3 Comments
  1. Author
    Anonymous 11 years ago

    Yinkus,
    Sometimes we have to experience the negative to find the good. You experienced negative comments from a couple of mean people and someone else overheard and was quite nice. I remember you told me about one of your interviews w/ that had you in tears (remember) but you learned so much from that experience. And it sounds like your friend also told you that at least you had a conversation in Spanish about hair extentions of all things! So Bless them and you keep being blessed! And if you don't find a salon there you surely can in London!
    Missing you…Auntie Roz

  2. Author
    Dena B 11 years ago

    How could I forget about that interview! It's true, you need that bad to appreciate the good…I'm actually not going to London anymore, I'm going to spend Christmas with my Spanish fam in BCN, then travel around Spain for a bit until the program finds my fam in Madrid. I found a really good Euro-rail pass that's good for 10 destinations in 2 months (although I plan to hit all my destinations in less than a month). I'm def gonna hit up a couple of snowboarding cities!..Originally I planned on getting my hair done in London, but once I decided I was going to stay in Spain I started looking for a hairdresser out here. The good news is that since my post I have found a couple of ppl. Now my dilemma is do I go with the middle aged woman from Cameroon who speaks a little bit of English (so I can explain exactly what I want) & only charges 90euros ($145) or do I go with the young (black) Spanish girl who doesn't speak a word of English, but her hair looks exactly how I want mine & she charges 180euros ($270)??…I think I know what I'm going to do, but I'd like your opinion on the matter!

  3. Author
    Anonymous 11 years ago

    Yinkus, you are going w/ the young girl who has her hair fixed like you want it. Have you seen the lady from Cameroon's work? If she does a good job doing your hair, maybe the other one can cut it and style it the way you want. An option. And you are over braids, I I know, but if you weren't, I am sure the young lady from Cameroon could hook you up. Anyway… you will look gorgeous whatever you decide. (You know I gots the Hercules syndrome, when it comes to my fam!) Miss you & love you..
    Auntie Roz

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