Travel hair trauma

Dear Reader, you will, I know, be nothing less than thrilled, delighted and relieved to hear that my hair returned to its bouncy, shiny self as soon as we battled our way past those disagreeable border patrol guards and arrived in the United States.

My bonce has had a traumatic nine months, losing sight of who it really was and experimenting with dos that didn’t reflect its true personality.

In Brazil’s sultry Pantanal my hair took on a big, curly, extravagant, look-at-me flair, no doubt excited by once again being on the road. And the humidity. Truly Amazonian.

When we reached the Atacama Desert in Chile, my poor curls utterly disappeared inside themselves, transforming into a lank, lifeless smear on the side of my face.

It was back to nature on Colombia’s Lost City trek: freshwater washing in numerous swimming holes with (gasp) no shampoo or conditioner. To my quivering surprise, by day three my mane was shiny and curly and the recipient of many jealous compliments from owners of less resilient locks. Sadly, by day four the attention had gone to its follicles and it sank into a pit of depression, dandruff, tangles and grease.

Only days later, the boat from Colombia to Panama meant five days of saltwater washing. My hair rebelled like a fresh-into-puberty teenager, transforming into a sticky, oversized nest and wallowing in its own dirt.

The damage had visibly taken its toll by the time we reached Costa Rica. My head wielded an unruly mass of split ends and straw. It was time for a chop. I took myself and my locks to a hairdresser in a wooden hut in Tortuguero National Park. Life was momentarily restored, until the sea swimming and sweat of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize took their heavy toll.

The confusing climate of Baja California was the last straw. Desert again sucked the life from my locks, a flat-lining shock to the system after the big-hair humidity of Central America, plastering it dreary and staticky against my scalp. Another four days of saltwater washing whilst sea kayaking in the Sea of Cortez baffled my poor, damaged hair into a dull, flat-at-the-roots-yet-balled-from-the-ear mop. Luckily I’d learned to portend my follicles’ future and taken with me a wide-tooth comb, a (god forgive me but I did wear it although I can hardly bring myself to write the words) baseball cap, and a woolly hat. Together we got through it.

That was a week ago, and what a difference a week makes in the worlds of politics and hairdos. One wash in a Los Angeles shower (I kept it short – water is a scarce commodity in southern California and I wouldn’t dare prioritise my hair over those who need to wash their 4x4s) and nine months of tress torture were erased before I could threaten it with “pixie cut”. Happy days.

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