We had spent the better part of the morning wandering back and forth on the island in search of colored thread to do hair wraps for each other. Apparently, islands that are small enough to traverse in fifteen minutes on foot don’t always have craft stores. We’d been told to come back in an hour to ask the jewelry vendor next door, then an hour later been told to come back in another hour to try asking someone else. Thread was in short supply, and our plan for a cheap souvenir was in danger. Since my friend, Sam, and I had both planned trips longer than a month, we were keeping close tabs on our budget. We decided to take a break from searching.
After a dip in the sea and debating over some rum punch, we finally decided that we might be willing to splurge and pay someone to do them for us. We walked across the island again to ask the one woman with the hand-painted ‘hair wraps’ sign how much it cost. We had passed her on the main street every day since arriving, and once or twice stopped to look at her wares. Today there were some children and another woman passing the time with her at her stall.
We asked about the hair wraps, but before she answered, she squinted at us and looked us up and down. Then, she looked us up and down again. I could feel her eyes taking in our clothes, complexion, and belongings. “Usually, I charge 30…but for you, I can do it for 15,” she said finally. We looked at each other, silently agreeing that $7.50 USD was alright. We told her we’d go grab snacks from our room and be right back.
As we were walking away, we suddenly spotted our dopplegangers! There were two young girls, one tall with lighter hair, one shorter with darker hair, both probably American. They could have been our counterparts… except that they didn’t look like they’d been on the road for a month. We laughed, comparing our appearances. They were both wearing short shorts, unlike our long, ankle-cinched light and flowy pants that were strategically protecting us from mosquito-borne illnesses. They carried leather purses, instead of our worn, cotton shoulder slings. They had nice sandals, not comfy waterproof flip flops. Their skin had light burns, instead of the honey slow-roasted tans that we’d developed. Their shirts looked cleaner, their hair less messy. In short, their appearances said “money.” Ours, as evidenced by the low bid for our hair wraps, clearly looked somewhere closer to homeless.
Laughing at ourselves for looking like bums and pleased that we’d be less likely targets for thieves, we passed the afternoon getting our hair done for half price! And it was worth it, because the hair wraps came with entertainment. The woman and her friend shared island gossip in Spanglish and pidgin, while Sam played with one of the little girls. It was another beautiful day for a couple of vagabonds.