Yesterday, I loaded up my two munchkins and caught a bus into town to attempt my son’s first haircut in Costa Rica. Before the hair salon-hunt, our first mission was to sit down and have a little lunch. I selected the trusty Balcony Café, since I’m on a first-name basis with the cheerful waitresses there. Another reason why I graced them with our trio’s presence is the simple fact that I needed to be somewhere somewhat familiar before trying to obtain a haircut in Atenas, when I didn’t know the language or roads, and didn’t even carry a map. My son loves the hanging toucan toys there, anyways. After storing up some energy with a couple empanadas con pollo and a chocolate milkshake (well, a few stolen sips from my son), I snapped the baby back into her carrier, brought H’s toy bird-watching reverie to an end, and ventured about 10 feet from the Balcony Café.
As we passed a kiosk filled with wooden, decorative creatures, my toddler shouted out, “There’s a RIBBIT!…and a SQUACK!” (He says the name of most other animals, but for some reason, frogs and parrots go by the noises they make). Of course, the owner of the exotic pieces understood his excitement, and prattled with him in a two year old-styled Spanish. He was slightly confused when she said, “Hola,” because he thinks that’s our gardener’s name!
I circled her fragile display with my son’s little fingers gripped tightly in my hand, wondering where in the city of Atenas am I going to find a hair-salon… Guess what–it was directly behind me! My previous waitress, Kenia, was chatting with Fleur, a hair stylist who was actually willing to cut a 2 year old’s hair! This was a very small, but very nice salon. There was one station for nails and pedicures, and one chair for haircuts. There was one side of a cubical-wall set up to hide a hair-washing basin as well.
H lasted about 1 minute in the chair with the salon-cape they buttoned around his neck. Ok, I thought, let’s just take off his shirt and get this done! Fleur was determined, too. She got out a brush for him to play with, and as he quietly swept up the falling hair on the floor, she squatted behind him and snipped away.
Towards the end, he got impatient with the hair in his face and all over his body, so I had to jump in to help hold him still. The lady across the college dorm-sized room motioned for me to give her the baby, who I happily unloaded onto her motherly lap. She was getting her toes done, and seemed to get a lot of enjoyment out of holding my squishy, pleasant little girl. While I had H rest his chin in my cupped hands, Baby P’s temporary sitter and the nail technician joked about giving her tiny toes a pedicure as well!
After about 15 hysterical minutes, Fleur and I gave in to my son’s protests of “Stop!” and “No gracias!” We wiped the hair off as much as we could, and settled him back into his mini-polo shirt.
The bill was 3000 colones, which is about $6. I don’t think they expect tips down here, but after all that she’d put up with, I threw in the extra 1000 colones that I had on me. I hope that was enough!
If you’re traveling in Costa Rica, and happen to find yourself in need of a haircut in Atenas, please visit Fleur on the 2nd floor of the small shopping mall on Main Street, near the Balcony Café. She’s a saint!