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!