A trip to the barber shop in Johannesburg

Yesterday was a relatively relaxing day here in Johannesburg.

Around mid-morning Kathryn and I ventured out to get me a haircut and shave. I had gotten a haircut shortly before leaving for South Africa, but three weeks of normal hair growth, combined with a bit too much hair left in front, had left me unhappy with my appearance. On top of that, I had decided not to shave while at the Kruger, so I had a scruffy six-day beard that was going to be a challenge to shave myself.

I got a recommendation for a traditional barber shop run by an old Italian man. Kathryn rarely accompanies me for a haircut, but she couldn’t resist watching me shaved with a straight razor. The fact that they call it a “cut-throat” razor here in South Africa increased the level of intrigue.

When we arrived at the barber shop, the old-timer was busy with another customer, so I climbed into the second chair. This guy spent close to an hour with me. The haircut was first, starting with clippers and then moving to the scissors. Then the real work began. He applied a cream to my face and did a machine facial massage, which I think was meant to prepare my face for the shave. Then he lathered my face, which by itself took longer than I spend in the bathroom most mornings. Then came the shave itself, which was done carefully and methodically, the barber sometimes returning to a spot for what seemed like a single missed whisker. Another softening cream and hand massage followed the shave, and the finishing touch was a traditional hot towel for a few minutes.

I left the shop feeling like a new man.

As if to one-up the experience, the old-timer also owned the cafe next door and offered Kathryn and me an espresso after the haircut. We enjoyed it on the cafe patio, along with a light second breakfast.

I’m starting to rethink how I get my hair cut at home.

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