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Hairstyle a la Van de Graaff

As I mentioned, a Mauritanian marriage lasts 3 days. They had shortened it a bit for us, but there was still a second ceremony planned that night. Like everything else on our trip, this one went exactly according to plan.

We start the day with a double breakfast, our own (granola) because we thought Kassim wasn’t going to feed us, and then a second of dates and salad that Kassim procured that unfortunately we were too full to eat. We watched him watering his garden, watering the Sahara, and mumbling secret thoughts to himself. We then drove the bumpy track to Atar and I had the elaborate head dress removed. Apparently it was up to my husband when this could come out, and he could chose to leave it in for ten days (had this happened he wouldn’t be a husband for very long). I was very relieved because it was starting to feel very heavy. It was braided into my hair and consisted of a black top with gold crown like dangles and black beaded braids. I will post photos.

Not that I’ve spent many days in life dreaming of weddings and white picket fences, but in the few seconds I’d put towards thinking about my imagined ceremony, my hairstyle has always included curls. This was circumvented by having to wear the headdress to bed last night, and not having a hair curler. However, I did bring a hair straightner and Rick a power adapter, so I figured straight hair was the next best thing. This led to an Einstein looking effect, think Van De Graaff generator.

Why? Two sentences:

Me (after plugging the straightener into the adapter into a wall socket:) “Is it supposed to be buzzing like that?”

Rick (distractedly): “Buzzing’s okay”

Relived that buzzing was actually a normal thing for an electrical device to be doing I began to run the straightener through my hair. After a short period I found that it was becoming increasing difficult to do so. Must just be my dry hair, I thought to myself, and kept going, it’ll get better. Dumb me. The device had burned all my hair such that I couldn’t even run my fingers through it and it was sticking out at all angles!

Nooo! This is not an appetizing look. And tonight I won’t be covered in black. What to do? I had no hair oil or product or anything that might soften this wild creature growing on my head. And now we were running out of time! The wedding was supposed to start at 8pm and it was, well, 8pm. I figured being Africa that meant 10pm, but still, I wanted to be ready even if no one else was there. I grabbed some face cream from my limited tool set and rubbed it in frantically, but that didn’t make the slightest bit of difference. Ryan, helpfully, suggests lip balm so I start lathering Carmex into my electrocuted locks. You can imagine how that stellar move turned out.

I go to Rick for help, but he’s sitting in the concrete hut, our breakfast room, one shoe in a boot, another in his Teva’s with a very stressed look on his face. Now is not the time to disturb him. Okay, I’ll wash it. No deal, the shower’s off. Smelly bride. Okay, I’ll tie it up.

I throw a couple of hair ties in and move to the next step, trying to get into my wedding dress, the world traveled one. Except that the dress is rather large and the tikit rather small, and the dress needs to come on from above. I hoist the huge thing over me, arms first, and climb underneath but then the top of the bodice catches on one of the larger twigs in the roof of the tikit so I’m standing there, arms in the air, held captive by the corset. I’m suffocating. Trapped! Am I to be the first bride ever to be killed by her own wedding dress?!

Fortunately Rick has taken a break from trying to put together a play list, which from his cursing, sounds like a frustrating task. It does not help that I ask, last minute, to walk down the ‘aisle’ (sand) to Abba’s Dancing Queen. He unhooks the dress from the top of the tikit and I shrug it down over my shoulders. Except in the doing now I catch my hair on the tikit roof and one of the hair ties snaps, leaving my hair back zooming out at even more gravity defying degrees. At that moment I also notice two hornets nests so I’m not staying in there a second longer. Screw the hair, I think. I grab the bracelets I’d been given from last nights ceremony, gold and silver and bronze colored snakes curling around my wrists, and race out of there to sit in the concrete shed. And sit. And sit. And sit.

I sit so long I start to go slightly mad. A scarab beetle is watching me from across the carpeted floor. An unwavering, penetrating stare, unmoving, gazing right in my eyes. I feel a bond with the beetle. I feel we are on the same ethereal wavelength. It’s just me and the beetle and the dim light, and sitting, sitting, sitting. And just as I’m about to attempt a Vulcan mind meld with my unlikely soul mate, Rick walks in, both feet in boots this time and stomps right on my beetle. The beetle is dead, dead, dead and I feel as crushed as it must have in the last cruel seconds of its little beetle life.

And now it’s been reallly long and I need to pee, but the dress is too big to maneuver and the toilets too disgusting to face without a legal will and a gas mask, so Rick helps me out to the dunes behind the concrete shed, and now, instead of peeing on my own feet, I pee on his feet.

Come on, it wouldn’t be a Justine post if there wasn’t one pee incident.

Rick is freaking out, because it’s past nine and absolutely no one is here. Have they forgotten? Where are they? He is very, very stressed. This is Africa I tell him, don’t worry, they’ll turn up. The music is sorted, Rick is sorted, Ryan is sorted, and Kassim and his wife are getting angry because they’d prepared food and they want to go to bed. It’s so late I want to go to bed too. I don’t have wedding day jitters about getting married, I have jitters about my strapless dress falling down around my ankles. Rick is annoyed because he polished his boots and they are now covered in sand. It’s the Sahara dear, what did you expect?

And of course they arrive! Alioune and his posse. After ten, but they are here. Some screwing around with the music and then Alioune is walking me down the invisible aisle, stomping through the sand and Kassim’s garden to the tune of Dancing Queen and because the imam has refused to marry us, even though I was considerate enough to convert to Muslim, Ryan stands in and does a brilliant job of saying the right things and Rick says some nice things and I say some things that might have been nice and hopefully not sarcastic and we exchange rings and there is some dancing. I’m allowed to this time, it’s our wedding soundtrack. Although we don’t get too far into the play list before Kassim procures some food (funny he’s chosen tonight to remember to do so, when there are just a dozen of us and not the night before, where there were 150 people) and we are eating and as a special occasion we are given forks, Rick and I. Ryan is stuck with his hands, which I think he enjoys. And more dancing, an interesting jig from Rick to De Antewood captured on video to be used for blackmail some point in the future. And then Mauritanian tradition I throw chocolates and the crowd lunges for them. Then some talking, some tea, and time for bed.

Ceremony #2 done!

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