It seems to be a pattern of mine that I agree to do things I'm not entirely confident of what they are. Yesterday about mid morning, another teacher (who I had met through my former co-teacher) came to my desk and asked if I would like to make "natural hair washee" that day at 1:30. I said that I would love to, but I would have to leave school at 3:00 for an event I was helping to plan on base. She said "no problem" and at 1:30, I walked to her room, a little excited that maybe Korean was into pure/natural/organic products. There were 5 other women who joined us, (and a man who was in the room, I was told, to talk in English to me but he sat on his phone the whole time and never actually spoke) and before I knew it, we sat around a table that had a handful of bottles with scientific-looking labels on them.
And then we were told to stand in a circle, still around the table. Of course, nothing is in English except for the occasional single word that someone spits out and the rest of the women giggle about, like "stand", or "happy". Before I knew it, we were circling our arms and stretching. And then we were breathing deeply and listening to soothing music. Finally, after everyone seemed like they had gotten the kinks worked out, we sat down . We watched a little bit of a slideshow presentation that had clouds and the words "heart" and "happy" and "body" on different slides. Then the host brought a ball of yarn to the table and it was tossed to me first, while she held on to a piece of the string (an activity I recognize! wahoo!) The only words that indicated what I was to say were "make happy, you" Assuming I was supposed to say what makes me happy, I said being outside, and cooking (the real crowd pleaser) then I tossed the ball across the circle, while holding on to a portion. Each person took their turn and spoke for at least a minute. Fortunately, someone was always able to summarize what they said in one word, of course followed by giggling. "Reading" "Watch movies" "Eating" were a few words I was able to pick up on. When everyone was finished, we all lifted the web of yarn high above our heads (obviously that meant my end was drastically higher, so the kink I put in my elbow didn't go unnoticed)
We were officially cleansed and "happy" and after watching some sort of science slideshow that was there to prove to us that what we were about to mix together was healthy for the environment, we were ready to make our "natural hair washee", which I told them is called "shampoo" (oooooohhhhhhhhh. ahhhhhhhhhh. mmmmmmmmmmm. shamppooooo.) We had a LONG list of ingredients that included both light and dark colored syrups and liquids (and one powder) and while I have never made shampoo before, I don't remember recalling that "natural" would mean that many ingredients (or with such strong odors) to clean one's hair. After just a couple steps, we brought our science glass cylinders over to a burner and heated it so the powder would melt. Then we brought it back to the scale and measured the rest of the ingredients, after each one stopping to reset the scale. The last three ingredients I recognized-lavendar, rosemary, and tea tree oil. Thank goodness! After this, we bottled the mixtures into 8 bottles and labeled them.
We watched a little more of a slideshow and then the host brought out snacks-tangerines, dried apples, dried sweet potatoes and crackers (bought from "Coastcoaa-have I heard of it?" "hmmm...no...OH! 'Costco!' yes!" followed by much more giggling) At that point, I realized I was 15 minutes past my departure time, so I excused myself and said "thank you" a million times. When I got back up to my desk, all three of my co-teachers asked how I liked making the shampoo. I said it was very fun and interesting, which was not too much of a stretch. It likely would have been a little more interesting if I knew a little bit more about the purpose and why it felt like a little yoga/meditation/science lesson. But fun, and a great break from sitting at the computer while the students slaved over their midterms.
And while I sit here, after lunch and coffee off campus with a few of the same ladies, sipping a hot beverage with scoops of a fermented fruit that grows in the front yard of school, quince, (given to help find the voice I lost yesterday), I feel as if this is, indeed, one of those moments Korea is more like Mars. And I welcome the weekend, where I can do regular chores, cook Mexican food, and not smell kimchi or be worried that I will accidentally eat octopus or seahorse.