To settle into the life of a place, at least to the limited extent possible, I go to the barbershop. There was one of these in Chicxulub Puerto and it was straight out of the 1880s. Had you seen a Clint Eastwood character sitting in the old-fashioned oak barber’s chair with its horsehair-stuffed cushion and shiny nickel-plated fixtures you would have thought nothing amiss amid the worn, white marble counter tops; tall, cracked mirrors (no bullet holes, but if there had been you would have understood), strops and straight razors, fancy tonic bottles, shaving mugs and the whole tonsorial paraphernalia. I would have paid admission just to sit there.
As I had hoped, locals drifted in while I was there and we chatted, at least to the extent of our mutual language abilities. One fellow, after the usual my-home-is-your-home business, asked me what my camera had cost. I had bought it used for $450 but thought that might seem a bit much, as I had no doubt that what was unremarkable in Palo Alto might appear unseemly hereabouts, so I said $100 and immediately decided I had made a mistake as the poor fellow acted as if I had pole axed him and I, who had never had the slightest concern for my security as I walked around the village at any hour of the day or evening, suddenly worried it might come to the ear of the wrong sort of person that I was carrying around in my shoulder bag the most valuable piece of movable property in Chicxulub Puerto.
What a bother. For the next few days I didn’t carry my camera, but eventually decided it was safe to do so, as it turned out to be.
It was a nice haircut. The scented tonic was a bit much to my taste, but I considered it all part of the experience. I was around town for a few more weeks and when I would go by the shop I would stick my head in and say ‘hello’ to the barber, who greeted me like I was one of his regular patrons, which was the point of the whole thing in the first place. I let him know when I was leaving and he said come back any time.
[The eight posts of this series are collected in a more convenient form as a single document, which can be accessed by clicking on "Incidents of Travel in the Yucatán" in the upper righthand corner of this page.]