You may well think that the heat has gone to my head to be talking about hair! You could be right but our neighbours, particularly the children, have been curious about our hair from the moment we arrived. Their reserve has not allowed them to be as open as they have been in the last couple of days.
Early in our time here Craig needed a haircut and as it was hot, nothing out of the ordinary there, we decided to cut his hair outside. Needless to say this was a cause of much curiosity. Our neighbours gathered as they usually do, outside under their trees, but instead of facing one another as they usually do they sat facing us so that they could watch the whole process.
We have observed that their hair varies quite a lot from one person to the next. Some have very sparse hair that really appears as little black dots on their heads, some have hair that seems to run in little rows across their heads and others have a more continuous covering of hair over their heads. However well covered their head is with hair it knits together to make a tight, spongy and dense mass that sees little effect from the wind blowing on it. There was much surprise when they first observed my hair being blown about by the wind.
Our neighbours wear their hair in any number of different and beautiful patterns which are achieved with the help of friends. It is a major task for them to undo one hair pattern and to replace it with another. Some of the patterns require a thread to hold clumps of hair together while others rely on the natural springiness of the hair to hold itself in place! For them there is a lot of industrious combing that comes with quite a lot of pain and scalp holding required on each section of the hair before it is tamed into the new style.
Yesterday while sitting with the children they became very bold and wanted to feel my hair and run their fingers through it. I felt a little like an overly loved puppy! When they asked me if it pained to have them do that they were really surprised to find that it didn’t. Eyes widened and there was much said about them wishing that was the case for them also. As we were talking and playing one of the boys washed his hair and he had no sooner got the suds out of it than he came over to me and it was my turn to marvel as his hair was dry!! I even got to feel that it really was the case.
It was then that one of the girls mentioned that I had hair on my arms! They were again fascinated as they don’t have any hair on their arms or legs! Needless to say that they have been “fearfully and wonderfully” made for their environment whereas we have not been made for this environment. We have hairs to keep us warm in the cold which are not really required for the vast majority of time here. I would also love hair that doesn’t require daily attention but …. I have also noted the capacity of the San people to drink very little and yet not to be thirsty or to become dehydrated. We by comparison require regular intake of fluids to function and seem to be constantly drinking. Another way that God has designed these wonderful people for their environment.