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"two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." -- Robert Frost

Monday, January 16, 2012

First Pancho Villa’s Barber Shop, Then Lunch

A skilled, in-shop haircut for a woman on the Arizona side of the U.S. Mexico border costs about 75 to 50 percent less on the Mexico side. At a beauty salon in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico for example, the savings amounts to about 50 percent over a comparable cut just across the line. And at the barber’s, the cost is even less.

Today for the first time I stepped into the barber shop my husband frequents. This shop boasts its own special historical relic—gleaming barber shears housed in a glass case. They were reportedly used in that very shop to cut the hair of the early twentieth century Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa.

Needing a trim, I asked for the experienced woman barber. The procedure was much like going into any franchise unisex hair salon in the U.S. with a couple of twists.

A gentleman who works in the shop translated my wishes about length and style to the stylist. I waited my turn, but only for about two minutes. The floor was swept clean after each patron. There was the light good-humored chatter of friendly conversation between people who appeared to know each other well. The hair cutter held up a mirror as she neared completion to make sure I was satisfied. And the cost of haircuts for my husband and me together including tips was $16 U.S.

After the barber’s, we stopped for lunch at a busy local Nogales, Sonora, Mexico restaurant, Café Leo. For us, the number of patrons in a restaurant is a sign of how fresh the food is likely to be. We ordered coffees, and fish tacos with a side of beans and tortillas. We dove into the chips and salsa while waiting for our food. The street outside the window was humming with activity, including more tourists and winter visitors than we have seen in some time. Our server was gracious and prompt, and lunch satisfying. The tab: $7.54.

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