Saturday, March 27, 2004

Adelaide, Australia--Alice Springs, Australia--Days 57/58

Today I woke up and had a few hours to kill before getting my bus up to Alice Springs. I checked out of my hotel and left my bags at the hotel while I went to the post office and over to the Quantas travel center to get my tickets sorted out since I changed my departure city to get to Sydney from Adelaide to Alice Springs. I first walked over to the post office but found that it was closed, so I hopped onto the free bus in the center and rode it over to the Quantas center that I had seen yesterday when getting the bus to the zoo. The bus ride was less crowded than yesterday (no school children!) and I found the Quantas center and sat down to wait my turn. I was finally called up and as it turns out, the can’t do ticket rerouting on the weekends, so I would have to wait until Monday to do so. Unfortunately I will be on my Ayer’s Rock trip on Monday, so I won’t be able to actually go in and get it changed until Thursday when we get back into Alice Springs. The woman said that this would be ok since my tickets were already changed in the system, all I would have to do would be to go in and it wouldn’t take long to reissue the tickets on Thursday.

So I set off back towards the hotel so that I could drop off the cds and tickets back at the hotel and not have to walk around with them all day. Afterwards I decided to get something to eat and walked over to the weekend market near my hotel. There were lots of shops set up and I walked around for a little bit then found a little café to have some tea and something to eat. After finishing, I decided that it would be a good idea for me to get a haircut, since my hair has gotten to be pretty much a mess lately and in need of some help. So I found a hairdressers and walked in, asking if I could get my hair cut. The woman at the desk (who had very noticeable hair that was bright blonde with a huge pink stripe in it) said that there would be time for me to have my hair cut, but not necessarily dyed today, if that was ok with me.

Sounded good (I wasn’t sure if I wanted my hair dyed anyways) and so I waited for the hairdresser (whose name was Sarah!) to come over. Soon a girl who also had bright blonde hair but with dark streaks in it came over and introduced herself as Sarah and brought me over to her chair and sat me down, taking a good look at my scraggly curls. She said that she thought that evening out the cut would be good, and that we could add a few bits of blonde highlights if I wanted, which would look really good, showing me a picture of a girl with really pretty hair with just a touch of blonde in her hair. With all of this traveling that I had been doing, I have been feeling pretty disheveled and so the idea of freshening up my hair sounded like a good idea.

So I agreed and Sarah got to work, leaving me to read a magazine while she went off to mix up this blonde color that she was going to put in my hair. She came back and started pinning and foiling and painting my hair with this white mixture which, when finally finished, took about 30 minutes for my entire head. Now I was getting a little concerned at this point because these foil things were not just a few, but basically all over my head with little bits of brown sticking out through the aluminum. She told me that she was going to make the brown bits in between a little bit more brown so that I had some contrast in my hair which would help make my hair back to its natural color (you have to wonder how dyeing your hair really gets it back to its natural color, but never mind). There was little to do at this point so I agreed and she applied this other brownish mixture to the hair, then another brown mixture after that so that now my whole head was covered in dye.

She left me for a while and came back occasionally to check up on the progress of my hair and seemed really please with what was going on. I could only just keep my fingers crossed and hope that it really did look as good as she said it was going to be.

Finally it was time to wash it all out and while she was doing so she kept saying oooooh! You are really going to love this! And other things like, ooooh! No one is going to recognize you when you get home!!

This is when I started to worry.

She brought me back to the chair and I pulled the towel down off of my head so that I could take a glance at my hair while she was rummaging around getting her scissors and things and only one word could ever describe what my hair looked like:


It was awful and as she started to comb and cut, all I could do was to sit there and try to come to terms with what had just happened on top of my head. It looks, um, good! I tried to make myself sound happy and pleased with what she did, but it was all I could do to keep myself from wanting her to chop the whole thing off.

By this time all of the other customers in the shop had left and they were closing things up so she basically didn’t really cut my hair just sort of thinned it out which is definitely not what I wanted but again felt helpless about saying anything. She finally finished and put some gooey stuff in my hair to make it less frizzy (as if thinning it out doesn’t make it more frizzy!) and before I knew it I had paid and was sent on my way with poofy, thin, zebra striped hair.

I know that everyone has a bad experience at the hairdressers sometime in their life, and this was definitely the peak of all of my hair disasters. All of the shops around were closing down so I ducked into the ladies bathroom to get a good look at what was up on my head. I found that no amount of light, or pulling my hair back or leaving it forward could fix this mess and I was mortified. Not only was I going up to Alice Springs on a 20 hour bus ride (with potentially a lot of people on the bus who would see me) but on a three day camping trip in which I would have to spent three long days trying my best to put up with the zebra stripes. To make matters worse since just about everything here likes to close over the weekends, especially on Sundays, there was no chance that I could really get things fixed now or tomorrow up in Alice Springs since how many hairdressing salons are there going to be in the Outback of all places?

So I didn’t know what to do, and could hardly go back to my hotel and have to face the bell boy there who would surely get a laugh out of my new look when I asked for my bags back. I looked at my watch and realized that I had spent THREE HOURS ruining my hair.

I was hungry and upset, so I went and grabbed some lunch at a café down in Adelaide’s shopping center which I walked to from the weekend market, and then tried my best to find internet cafes to post my blogs. Two internet cafés later and still no luck so I walked around a bit more and found myself in the area near the zoo again and found what I thought was a museum but turned out to be the library. Surely they would have internet here with USB ports so that I could post my blog! Again, no luck and as I plugged in my USB drive to the computer a big ERROR message popped up and warned me that the library staff had been informed of my illegal actions. Hmmm. I pulled my plug out and made it out of there as quick as I could!

I then found the Museum of South Australia which had some unusual exhibits which included a large collection of stuffed animals, including, much to my shock, a mother Nile hippo and her baby! I took pictures just for documentation sake and walked around the rest of the exhibits before heading over to the Australian art museum nearby, which I only had a few minutes to walk around before they closed. By this time it was 5 o’clock and I decided to walk back over to my hotel (after trying to get a bus back but realizing that they stop running at 5 o’clock) and got back to the hotel, got my stuff from the bell boy (who wasn’t the one that I had talked to earlier so he wouldn’t notice that my hair looked shockingly different) and got a taxi over to the bus terminal where I checked in and waited for my bus along with several other passengers. I located my head band and put it on as quickly as I could--if I couldn’t change my hair at least I could cover it up!

The bus arrived and we all boarded and I was lucky to get my own seat next to the window. After we all boarded we set off on our 20 hour journey. The bus journey itself wasn’t all that bad since I was able to lie down and sleep for a good portion of the trip. We watched two movies and made several stops along the way, getting dinner at a sort of sketchy bus stop along the way around 11pm and getting breakfast at a significantly less sketchy place around 7 am. I ran into a couple at the breakfast stop who had spent a few days in the Outback already and were on their way up to Alice Springs via 4 wheel drive and were extremely excited about drinking “something else besides water and seeing civilization.” I tried sitting outside for a while but it was only a short time before the flies realized that I had plenty to offer them sitting there without anything to swat them away. When I couldn’t stand swinging my arms around trying to keep them away, I moved inside with the others, taking note of a woman with a green hat with a fly net attached to it who was happily sitting outside. Note to self: buy fly hat as SOON as possible.

We pulled into Alice Springs around 1 o’clock in the afternoon and I was greeted by the hostel driver for where I was staying (more like shown were I should wait to be taken) and soon we were off to the hostel were I was dropped off. I checked in and got my keys and found that I was the only person in my room which was designed for six people so thankfully I wouldn’t have to worry about having other people around. I decided to lock up my things and head into town in search of a fly hat and if lucky, something to fix my hair with. I had to walk for quite a while since where I was staying was quite the ways out of town and stopped off at an internet café on my way (again, no luck with the blogs!) and then realized that I should get on my way about finding a fly hat because since it was Sunday the chances of anything being open were already slim, and it was getting late in the afternoon so things that would be open would be closing up.

I found an outdoor clothing shop that was open and found a hat, much to my relief, and bought it and inquired about any other stores being open. The woman told me that there was a K-Mart in town that was just a few blocks away. K-Mart! What luck! So headed off to K-Mart and was able to find a pair of shorts and a nice big bottle of light brown hair dye to fix my disastrous hair. I figured that at this point there was nothing that could be worse than having white chunky stripes all over my head so dying it all brown would at least cover up the streaks. I got a taxi back to where I was staying at since it was just starting to rain and headed straight to my bathroom to “fix” my hair.

Ten minutes later I now had brown hair, which was a little bit darker than normal but a thousand times better than the look I had going on before so I was happy (well, at least happier). The rest of the afternoon I spent reading a bit and watching the news on the TV in the lounge, then getting a buffet dinner which was actually really good. I sat down by myself and a few minutes later had a family come over and want to sit with me. It was a dad and his two kids who lived in Sydney but were originally from Sri Lanka and were spending a few days up at Alice Springs. So we talked for a few minutes and before I knew it I was invited to their house in Sydney, offered to be shown around Sydney by them (even though I told them that I had a friend that I was staying with in Sydney) and was even offered to stay in their room at the hotel. Hmmmm. I politely excused myself back to my room, but wasn’t able to leave before first locating a pen (which meant having to go to their room) and writing down my email and getting their various email and home addresses in Sydney, promising to call them when I got there.

Back in my room I watched a little bit of TV then went to bed, as my ride was coming at 5:45am to pick me up for my three day camping safari!

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.