First of all, I would like to apologise to all of you who feel disgusted by toes and feet – just skip this post 🙂 and yes Miri, once again I am publishing photos of my toes!! I guess you wouldn’t believe me if I said that I actually hate my toes….
So, how come my feet or rather toenails are getting their own blog post? Well, last Wednesday Swedish B had organised a surprise for me and her visiting mother… I had a suspicion about what it could be but she refused to say anything more, and just told me to bring a pair of flip-flops! B and her mother picked me up in the evening and we drove off – I quickly understood that we were heading for Arecibo where B’s family-in-law lives. At one point B received a phone call and told the person on the other side of the line that she couldn’t say anything because I would understand (conversation was in Spanish)… I just laughed because I was getting convinced that I knew what was going to happen!
We arrived to the Puerto Rican family’s house in a small village outside Arecibo and even though I have been there twice before, I still smile at the guard geese which patrol the front yard… The family has quite a few dogs as well but it is definitely the geese that announce visitors! B’s grandmother-in-law welcomed us with big hugs and dinner – arroz con camarónes (rice with shrimp). While she served us big plates of rice, she mentioned something about uñas and I laughed – aha, my guess had been right about what we were going to do after dinner!! B jokingly scolded la abuela (grandmother) and told me not to say anything to her mother…
After dinner we walked past the neighbour’s yellow school buses (the neighbour has a school bus company and at least 10 of them stand in the yard) and along the dark road until we arrived to a small building where a light was on and a sign saying Abierto (Open) was hanging from the door. B’s mother still had no idea what was going on when we stepped into the salón de uñas (or el beauty as it is also called in Puerto Rico)… a nail parlour! It was a very cosy little salon with a big sofa, bright coloured walls and a small table with paint, brushes and nailfiles where the owner created the most impressive pieces of art on our toenails!!
I never paint my toenails, and hardly ever my fingernails either but this was one unforgettable experience!! Like B said, it is part of the Puerto Rican experience and something I had to do before leaving this island of manicured and pedicured nails! Fake nails, both on your fingers and feet are almost the norm – the longer the better and of course with different motives.
It takes a while to get used to having painted toenails – you notice your own feet much more, and I still get a little surprise every now and then when I look down on my toes! O just laughed when I came home and showed off my adorned nails – not to mention my Spanish teacher when I used my experience as an example for my homework: Si hubiera preferido, habría podido tener uñas sintéticas ayer (= “If I had preferred, I could have had fake nails”), since I had to come up with 10 sentences in the conditional tense on Wednesday evening when doing my Spanish homework. I had to take off my shoes to explain the sentence… But no, I wouldn’t do it again – it is quite a waste of money since I hardly ever wear open shoes!
The beauty industry is huge in Puerto Rico, and you might remember that I have already mentioned the Puerto Rican men’s habit of plucking their eyebrows. On Saturday O and I went to the hairdresser for haircuts and I was asked if I wanted un blower as well but I declined*. In France and Belgium it is called un brushing and it means of course that they blowdry your hair straight. Many women both in Puerto Rico and in some countries in Europe will go to the hairdresser to get their hair washed and dried instead of washing it at home. Also, in Puerto Rico it is a common habit to wear dubi-dubis, which are metal hairclips to keep the hair straight, in public. However, this is not to everybody’s liking and there is a big facebook group devoted to the Coalición Anti Dubi-dubi y rolos en lugares públicos (Coalition Anti Dubi-dubi and rollers in public spaces).
*) Since it costs extra to get your hair blowdried. However, my hairdresser in Brussels would always blowdry my hair straight for free, and I loved having completely straight hair for 1-2 days after my haircut!