The thought of embarking on a 4-month journey was daunting for me initially when I made the decision to leave the states. One of the things that kept coming up in my mind was the question of How I would be able to keep up with my hair while being away for four months.
Before leaving I made a wig, I figured it would serve me through my entire journey of being away. I alternated between different hairstyles while I was away. I tried to stay away from braids after hearing the horrifying stories other women shared from getting their hair braided in Africa, but I couldn’t help myself.
Unfortunately for me, my first hair braiding encounter when I arrived in Cameroon was similar to the horrifying hair stories I had heard. About a huge chunk of my edges were pulled out from the braider pulling my hair. I was traumatized after that experience and never returned to get my hair braided. I reverted back to wearing my wig after a month had passed from wearing my braids.
Some of the challenges I faced was not having access to the haircare products I used back home. While I’m no natural hair connoisseur or even an expert at taking care of my hair, at the bare minimum I try to make sure that I maintain the health of my hair. But, here I was in a town where I couldn't even find quality shampoo and conditioner. I was lost. I’m not the kind of woman who likes to spend hours mixing up products for deep conditioning my hair. Honestly, when it comes to my hair, the least amount of work I have to do, the better for me. In this case I had no choice, I became that HER. Mixing up all kinds of concoctions to retain the moisture in my hair. For those who have experienced harmattan season in West Africa you know what I’m talking about. You put on lotion and as soon as you step out of the house the lord of ashy bestows itself on you. It was terrible, but I survived it.
I mixed up shea butter, eggs, avocado and coconut oil for deep conditioning. Sometimes I would put a plastic bag over my head and wear my wig with the bag over my head. That was my tactic on defeating the effects of Harmattan season.
Towards the end of my journey, I tried different styles with my wig. I became a fan of the Halo Twist and how well it suited my face. I decided to give braiding one more chance and the last experience was not as traumatizing as the first.
My advice to those traveling for a long period of time will be to travel with one or two products that will last you for a long period of time. You can also try kitchen care like I did. Last but not the least if you’re up for it, make a wig or invest in one. They come in handy on those days when you don’t want to be bothered with your natural hair-- as for me that happens to be every day. You can also try braids but be willing to accept the consequences that come along with it—(pray for your edges).