I apologize for my lack of commitment with the blogging, I’ll try to do better. My topic today is…dreadlocks!
I have had quite the experience with dreads here in Liberia. A few of you know that I tried (and failed, terribly) to get dreads in late November/early December, I forgot when. I had been interested in getting them for quite a while, and was really excited when my dad came home one day and said he had found a guy who claimed he could do dreadlocks on white peoples’ hair. So, trusting that, Simon and I rode down on the motorbike and spent about 3 hours in a roadside salon (spelled saloon. haha). The first step was to wash my hair in a solution to “make it rough”. This meant going to the side of the one room building, getting a towel thrown over my shoulders, and bending at the waist while cold water was poured from a bucket (by a cup), slowly over my head. When it was all wet, he scrunched it a little, and we went back inside. Then, he and a woman did 53 tight twists with two strands, sectioning it as they went. The twists, which they call a “two finger plait”, went from root to tip, and I only know there were 53 because I counted them when I got home. During this process, a ton of gel was applied, making them slick and sticky. Then, the guy wrapped thread around the base of each twist, meant to hold it so it wouldn’t loosen. Then, I’ll never forget, this dude, named D-Boy, put something similar to a fishing net around his hand, and rubbed all around my head, using a circular motion and a ton of pressure. I have named this specific part of the process “The Net of Terror”. My head was already so sore at this point from the thread being so tight and all the pulling, that I could hardly stand the pain of this step which they call “rubbing”. Because of the thread, each strand sort of stuck out, and it was pulled as tight as it could possibly be. In other words, it was incredibly ugly. After this initial installation, I had to go back a few times a week to get them re-geled and “rubbed” again.
Pretty soon (about a month after I got them) it became clear that this fella didn’t know how to do dreads on white hair. This was certainly the way to dreadlock black hair, but they would never lock on mine. My dad did some research on how to really do dreads on hair like mine and then told the guy he didn’t know what he was doing and that I would not be coming back. My mother and I spent one agonizing day undoing them. Loosening the plaits, removing the thread, and washing all the gel out took an entire day. Hours upon hours I was sitting on the floor while my mom gently combed, trying not to break my hair any more than it already was. That night and the next day I was grieving for my hair! I know it’s a stupid thing to get upset over, but my hair was broken, dry, brittle, and even cut in some places. Not at all worth it. My hair was an inch shorter, and unhealthier than it had ever been. But… now, my hair is doing okay. The cut places are taking their own sweet time to grow out, but it isn’t as dry, so I’m happier.
It was sure an embarrassing turn of events, and painful, but if I could get dreads for real, I would do it. It seems like the real way to do it is much easier than what D-Boy tried, so maybe we can try again on our own. I like the style and I like the sound of little to no maintinence after they’re locked.
Thanks for reading! -Rubies