I was recently given some cringe-worthy travel advice: dye your hair.
1) Never have I found blonde hair to be a problem when travelling. (People I meet tend to overcompensate for the ‘dangers’ of me being a female traveller, the result being I get a lot of help).
2) In Nicaragua, or anywhere else in the world, never will I ever pass for Latina.
My initial reaction was pure self-righteous scorn. Then I got thinking… how about if not standing out as much makes me look a little more local? How about if I could pass for half Spanish? How about if it gets me in touch with my ‘black swan’? And then the cosmetic industry’s foundation: How about if changing my hair changes me?
And so I did it. I dyed my hair darker.
Later that day I got harassed by a group of fourteen year olds in Bristol’s Victoria Park. After ‘can I have your number?’ failed to work and I bent down beside my dog, I got the oh-so-romantic chat up line:
‘If I shit, will you pick it up?’
Gotta lurrve Brizzle. Surprisingly (I mean, come on, have you seen this face?) that was the first time in a lifetime that I have received any interest while walking the dog.
Then evening arrived and I went to my Spanish/English language exchange. As I was talking to an Argentinian man, the light hit my hair. ‘Wow, your hair is so blonde! Is it your natural colour?’ I tell him my actual colour is in fact lighter. His heart visibly breaks. But by the time I get home, I find his comments all over old photos of me on Facebook.
Conclusion: I guess I have to wait until I’m in Central America for the real verdict. But for now, I think getting malaria tablets should have ranked higher on my To Do list than dying my hair.