We’ve lived in Bali now for a little over 6 months and hand on head, I’ve barely had one good hair day. Stick with me lads, it gets more interesting…
Thicker, glossier hair is a cruel lie you’re told when you’re pregnant to sugar coat the grim reality of cankles and the creepy disappearance of your belly button as you once knew it. At least it was for me. At best (with Arlo), my hair stayed the same and at worst (with Eia), it pretty much stopped growing in length and started growing in tufts from my temples. Sweet baby Jesus, what the actual f**k is that all about?!!! Apparently, ‘girls rob you of your beauty‘. Yeh, pretty much, I can’t argue with that because since I pee’d on a stick 18 months ago, my hair has never been the same and moving to the tropics has only compounded the problem. My natural hair texture is a beachy wave which luckily enough for me is very ‘in‘ in Bali but it’s previous smooth and shiny appearance has been substituted, against my will, for straw. Sun, salt water and swimming pools have a lot to answer for!
We’d been here 6 weeks and I was showering the kids in the driveway, as you do, when my mother in law, who speaks fluent Indonesian after living in Jakarta for 23 years, said what I thought was something like:
“Anak di mandiin?” Translation: Showering the kids?
Or at least thats what I thought I heard at first because she’d been regularly and mistakenly speaking to me in Indonesian as she’d forget to change her default language setting back to English for me. It took me a few beats to register that she had in fact spoken English and that what she had actually said was ‘is your hair green?” We exchanged a silent look of understanding and then erupted in laughter. It turns out hard water and chlorine turning highlights green isn’t an urban myth! My hair was now more Billie Eilish than Blake Lively. I was straight on my mummy group chat and google for the solution. They all said the same thing – ketchup. Apparently the red in the sauce does something to cancel out the green but I’ll be f**ked if I know the specifics, I’m a mum not a science teacher. Anyway, I took everyones word for it and coated my lengths in tomato sauce. If you think that sounds nuts, it is. It didn’t work. Other than leaving my hair smelling like a Big Mac, it did sweet nothing for the green! Oh, and, washing 32C Bali baked tomato sauce out of your hair – no cakewalk! Especially without hot water. Our water supply comes from a well in the garden, straight from source. It’s filtered but it’s not heated or treated. Believe me, living on the equator, when it comes to showers, the colder the better since you start sweating again pretty much as soon as you turn the water off. So at no point have I ever missed hot water…until then.
In the end, I decided to save the ketchup for the fries and buy toner to fix my mane. But trying to find blonde toner in a country where 97% of the population have black hair – not easy! So I gave up on that idea and found a salon in Kuta that could fix it. Two and a half hours, some kind of chlorine removal treatment and a shot of toner later and I no longer resembled a love child of the Grinch.
While we’re on the green theme, let me share a little story from a couple weeks after the sauce saga. I’m a ‘two birds with one stone‘ kinda person. If I can achieve two outcomes with one action, I’m all over it. For example, showering. Arlo usually showers with me in the morning while Eia naps because (a) it keeps him out of trouble and (b) I’d just be showering him next anyway so……I mentioned our water comes straight from source yeh? Untreated. Well, a few weeks later, in some kind of revolting scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie, we were mid shower when all of a sudden, a mass of green goo started coming through the shower hose! You know how sometimes unexpected crazy shit happens and although your eyes send a message to your brain such as ‘huh, Arlo’s covered in green slime‘ it wasn’t until a split second later when he looked up at me from under a curtain of the stuff that my brain registered ‘ARLO’S COVERED IN GREEN SLIME!’ and my mouth let out a little yelp of disgusted horror. This set Arlo’s alarm bells off too so now I’m standing in the shower in a puddle of stinking green sludge, arms raised in disbelief at my wings of algae while he flaps about screaming at my feet. Good times. After a minute or so whatever it was passed, but it freaked the bejesus out of me and left me primed for the next shock of the morning. Our lovely pembantus (helpers at home) Pak Ketut and Ibu place offerings around our house to pray for our health and well being and to keep away bad spirits. Totally normal in Bali. They worked for the previous owner of our house too and sort of ‘came with the house’ (also pretty normal in Bali) so they have some interesting stories to share about spooky goings on (again, pretty normal in Bali and Indonesia as a whole). No shit, my mother in law had just relayed to me that morning, one of their stories. Years ago, Pak Ketut had been called to the house one night after a member of the family saw a woman and a child on the upstairs landing…so when I was getting dressed in the bedroom after our green shower and heard a noise outside the bedroom door, I nearly shat a brick when I opened it and found Ketut Kecil standing there (he’s Pak Ketut’s five year old son and we affectionately call him ‘Ketut Kecil’, which means little Ketut in Indonesian). He often comes to work with his parents but they never let him upstairs to the bedrooms. God, just writing that I can hear how ‘Downton Abbey’ and colonial I sound but its just normal life here and how hubs was raised though it’s taken me a lot of getting used to, even now 6 months in. Anyway, I almost had to pinch him to make sure he was real and not a little ghost boy! In the end, we had to install a new water tank for the roof, water filter and water pump to prevent a repeat of ‘The Slimeing’ and I can report we’ve had no green sightings since!
There have been days, especially way back at the beginning of our new life here, where I felt like that girl (I wanna say Christina Milan???) in that sappy film called um, something about an Inn…I think it was Falling Inn Love? (Yeh, we see what you did there Netflix!) I never actually watched it but from the trailer it looks like she moved to the arse end of nowhere, where she didn’t know anyone or anything about the life she was going to and bought a house that needed a little more work than she was expecting. Yeh, thats me. Except with a kid hanging off my leg, the other hanging off my boob, a saggy belly button and green hair. But things are coming together slowly and I’m in love with this new life. I’m mostly killing it now. Somedays its killing me. Either way, somethings dead. Probably whatever was in that old water tank…..euch!