Splits Ends vs. The Virgin Mary: A Haircut in Bosnia

I hate haircuts.


Mostly because of the awkward chit chat, which I assume is a necessary skill for hair stylists to procure their license.


But also, (and perhaps more importantly) because my hair is completely exasperating, and I like to try to forget that it exists.



My First (and Last) International Haircut: Split Ends vs. The Virgin Mary



For starters, I have sooo much of it.


And it isn’t content to be either wavy OR straight. Oh nooooo. It has to be both. Sometimes within the same strand of hair.


And it’s somehow both dry and oily. (Can anyone explain this phenomenon??)


I have often told Michael that I would shave my head if it were socially acceptable, and I’m still a little peeved that the whole Britney Spears circa 2007 thing never caught on.



My First (and Last) International Haircut: Split Ends vs. The Virgin Mary



Does that set the mood for this story? I think so.


But just to recap:


Pair disdain for my hair with a healthy dose of procrastination (particularly for tasks I dislike), and then put that in the context of a trip where I’m backpacking around Europe for the better part of a year… during which I have decided that the majority of personal hygiene tasks are optional anyway.


The setting is Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, approximately 5 months into our trip, and over 5 months since my last haircut. My split ends have multiplied exponentially during this time, and are actively planning a coup d’état.


Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to completely ignore my hair, and I must take action.



My First (and Last) International Haircut: Split Ends vs. The Virgin Mary



So in an attempt to quell the rebellion, and with some help from Google Translate, I go in search of a “frizerski salon.” I’m annoyed at the prospect of a haircut, but my oddly militant split ends have left me no choice.


The first frizerski that I came upon had curtains completely covering the door and all of the windows.


This was unfortunate, because I was hoping for a little peek before barging in, largely unaware of social customs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and also unable to speak the local language (aside from “please,” “thank you,” and obviously – the names of several local foods).


I steeled myself for awkwardness, and pulled the door.



My First (and Last) International Haircut: Split Ends vs. The Virgin Mary



It did not move.


I checked the hours posted on the door, I checked my watch, and I pulled again.


Then I pushed. Then I shoved. Then I pulled again.


At this point, I had completely forgotten about social customs and decorum, but it didn’t matter because the door absolutely would not open with any amount of jiggling, wriggling, or cajoling.



My First (and Last) International Haircut: Split Ends vs. The Virgin Mary



The good news is that frizerskis are plentiful in Mostar.


Maybe they actually enjoy haircuts there. I don’t know. There are some sick people in the world.


But regardless of the reason, there’s at least one frizerski salon on every street, and often a couple. However, despite these seemingly advantageous odds, I somehow managed to repeat this song and dance *four times* at four different frizerskis.


I would check the posted hours, check my watch, yank the door handles, and get exactly nowhere.


It was completely baffling. I imagined a secret network of spies, alerting hair dressers that some clueless American with an absurdly large volume of unkempt, mutinous hair was coming their way. They would all quickly shutter their doors and windows, turn off the lights, and stay silent, while I pushed, pulled, and generally acted a fool.


I could feel my split ends splitting further with each failed attempt.





I was starting to get sweaty. And more than a little frustrated.


With each attempt, hair cuts were inching further and further up my mental list of despised activities, ousting all-time classics like “getting a pap smear,” “going to the dentist,” and “wiping with single ply toilet paper.”


But Y’ALL. On my fifth friserski… the door opened!


And I can only imagine the crazed look on my face, as I let out a triumphant “AH HAH!!!” and marched into what turned out to be a very small establishment.


One hairdresser was present, mid-scissor snip, and stared at me open-mouthed. The lady getting her hair cut gaped at me with wide eyes. The two people in the waiting area looked horrified, and confused, and also – a little afraid.



My First (and Last) International Haircut: Split Ends vs. The Virgin Mary



It was at this point that I remembered I was unable to communicate my wish for a haircut.


I mimed scissors and cutting and enthusiastically pointed to myself. They stared. I repeated my charades, and then added a hopeful “molim” (please).


(I considered shouting, “SAUSAGE, BEER, BAKLAVA!” since those were some other Bosnian words I knew, but ultimately decided it would not be helpful to the situation.)


As I was contemplating my next move, the hairdresser responded with a single word. “No.” She pointed to the waiting patrons and then her watch. (She did this multiple times, as though I might be a little slow on the uptake.)


It was clear that I was not getting my hair cut that day.


I went back to our Airbnb and relayed my adventure to Michael. He promptly Googled, and found out that it was a Catholic holiday – the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He informed me that most establishments were closed, and explained that that was probably the reason for my lack of success, rather than my utterly maniacal appearance or a secret network of spies.



My First (and Last) International Haircut: Split Ends vs. The Virgin Mary



The next day was NOT a holiday, and I went to a frizerski salon that was quite open, thank you very much.


I still couldn’t really communicate, but my split ends were literally trying to kill me (I’m almost positive), and I was determined to get this damn haircut and move on with my life.


I played charades again, this time with more vigor and insistence.


I mimed scissors and a cutting motion and pointed to myself. I held up a chunk of hair and did my best pantomime performance of “My split ends are disturbingly out of control,” and also “I’m pretty sure they’re secretly plotting to murder me.”



My First (and Last) International Haircut: Split Ends vs. The Virgin Mary



The hair dresser was somewhat taken back by the intensity of my pantomime. But thankfully, she understood. The look in her eye told me that this was not the first time she had seen a full-scale hair riot, and she was prepared for what lay ahead. She nodded and pulled me to the washing station.


She began with a rinse and a scalp massage.


And y’all, I’m going to be honest. I have no idea what happened in the 20 minutes after that.


Is it possible to black out in the hairdresser’s chair?


The only thing I can tell you with any degree of certainty is that there was absolutely no small talk. (Thanks, the language barrier.) I’m also reasonably sure that the hair dresser’s fingers had some sort of magic infused in them. Or maybe the Blessed Virgin Mary was just feeling refreshed after her holiday and bestowed a little hair miracle upon us.



My First (and Last) International Haircut: Split Ends vs. The Virgin Mary



Regardless, the insurrection that was mounting on my scalp was soon dismantled. Not a single split end remained when she was finished.


Plus, she added layers, and massaged in some lovely product that left my tresses feeling silky smooth.


In summary, I walked out of there looking and feeling FLY AF.



My First (and Last) International Haircut: Split Ends vs. The Virgin Mary



And despite the obstacles, I’d have to say this was the best haircut of my life.


So if you ever find yourself in Mostar and you’re needing a trim, I highly recommend “Frizerski Salon Mara.”


(Just not on a Catholic holiday.)





BTW – If you enjoyed these silly cartoons, you might also enjoy my other hand drawn posts!




  1. Reply

    I.dont suppose you remember how much it was ?! I am in the same position and sounds like my hair is exactly the same !

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