Sitting in a barber shop in the coastal city of Split, Croatia, I struggled to answer the stylist’s simple question: How long would we be visiting Croatia? I had learned a smattering of Croatian words, but the names of the months had so far escaped me.
Remembering the calendar hanging above my head – albeit adorned with nude calendar girls – I flipped through the weeks and pointed to a date. As I exposed each month’s voluptuous model, the 70-something barber’s moustache-framed mouth curled into a mischievous grin. However awkward the method, I had satisfied his curiosity. Clearly I was in male territory, though.
The funny encounter got me reminiscing about all the haircuts Shawn and I have had around the world. With my naturally-curly hair, I’ve been more reluctant to get my hair coiffed, perhaps only summoning the courage in 8 countries. In contrast, Shawn has had his locks lovingly trimmed – even aggressively buzzed – in about 18 countries!
Along the way, we’ve learned how to perfect our miming skills such as the “Please only cut this much off” gesture. We’ve also picked up hair vocabulary like šišanje (Croatia), une coupe (France), and подстригване (Bulgaria).
Countries where Shawn has gotten a trim:
Shawn’s least-expensive haircut: Serbia at 270 Serbian Dinar ($2.50 USD), nearly tied with the Thai barber shop’s 100 Baht ($3 USD) fee. (These rates are even less than the lowest one mentioned in this round-up of haircut prices around the world.)
The priciest: Germany at 23 Euro (about $26 USD).
His shortest shearing (unexpectedly) occurred in: Bosnia-Herzegovina.
What the cuts had in common: People around the world taking pride in their work, despite there not always being a common language in which to communicate.
And as always, smiles went a long way when words failed to bridge the communication gaps.
Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and a co-founder of Eloquence. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta, as well as Heidelberg, Germany. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene.
A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Though they are currently nomadic, they look forward to establishing a European home someday.
Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.
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