Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Evolution of a Plant

There's a common phenomenon among the Apotos (white girls) that come here, and it usually occurs about a week or two after their arrival, or right before they're getting ready to leave.  They decide that they should "plant" their hair like the Sierra Leonean girls do.  The women here can do some awesome things with their hair and it looks.....well, awesome.  However, when the white girls do it?  Not so awesome.  Since I have a rather large head and therefore lots of room for a blazing white scalp to show through, I have put off jumping on the plant your hair bandwagon.

I have enjoyed however, standing by and watching lots of Apoto's get their hair planted while here. A lot of them are really cool!  Some of them are....different.  My all time favorite was a plant one of my friends got called the "snake."  Imagine a spiral braid that starts on the top of the head and and spirals inward until the remaining end of the hair sticks straight out of the middle of the circle.  Then imagine that you have one of these spirals on the top of your head, one on each side, and one in the back.  All with that piece of hair sticking out of the middle of the circle.  I still literally laugh out loud when I think about it.  But the girl was a trooper and left it in for 2 days!! I called her Cindy Loo Hoo.

People (my Sierra Leonean friends) have been telling me to do it for over a year.  Every time someone does it it's "Emily, do it. Do it. DO IT!!!"  But I stood strong and my scalp remained covered.  Well, last week I hurled caution to the wind and said, "Sun! Prepare to meet and burn my scalp!"  

I had a friend that was getting ready to leave and wanted to get her hair planted before she left.  I went to keep her company.  Now this girl has GORGEOUS hair....and a TON of it!  I asked how long it would take to plant and they said about 4 hours.  Yikes.  I sat there for about an hour watching them work on my friend and listening to them all tell me I should get mine done. And I caved.  They went and bought some extensions for me (red and black....why not?) and three girls started working on me.  And it hurt.  A lot.  At times I would have all three of them pulling as hard as they could on my head in different directions.  But alas, 3 hours later I was finished.  

This was what my face looked like for the majority of the time.  

I looked like I should have been part of a reggae band. Or at least a roadie.  The toughest part was that every time I moved my head, a bunch of little hairs would get pulled out.  My sister had this done when she was in Nigeria and she lasted 5 days.  So of course my goal was to keep it in for 6. I wasn't sure I was going to make it.  It was so heavy.   And so hot!!!

The girls and I after they finished.  They were proud!

After 2 days though, it started feeling better! I figured that all of the little hairs that were getting pulled have all just come out now so there's no more hair to pull. I didn't care. I was pain free. 
My favorite part of the whole experience was when I got back to the hospital. People freaked out.  I have never had so many people get so excited about one of my hair-do's before!  It was hilarious. When I complained about how much it hurt they just laughed and said "You have to bear. You have to bear" (which means suck it up).  
Since I got such a great response, I decided to make my goal 2 weeks.  Then on Saturday night I had a dream that I took it out and when I woke up on Sunday morning and it was still there....I was sad.  So I quit.  A couple girls came over and the three of us plus my roommate went to task taking out all of the tiny braids. After two hours I had air circulation to my head once again, and a giant pile of fake hair.  As Mr. Gibson would say....Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedoooooooooommmmmm!   

I was afraid it was going to take as long to pull it out as it did to put it in

Apparently you can use it again, but I don't see it in my near future. So I gave it to the girls as a "thank you."  I would have been there for 3 days without them!

Tonight I was down at the hospital and an adorable 3 year old asked if she could plant my hair.  How could I say no?  Fortunately her idea of planting was twisting my hair around for about 15 minutes until she got bored.  My kind of plant!

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