LIVING / Beauty School II

Beauty School II

Beauty School II

20 June 2006 LIVING 3

It has been nearly three months since Socco May started beauty school in downtown Merida. Last week, she told us that so far she had learned how to do haircuts, hair color and manicures and she offered to give Working Gringa a manicure this week. So, after doing the usual cleaning around the office (from which she earns her spending money), she brought out her equipment and sat down with WG for a manicure.

We were duly impressed by her professionalism and her dexterity with her tools. While she worked, we attempted, with our faltering Spanish, to draw her into conversation and find out how things are going in school.

She told us that she likes her teachers and has made friends from many different pueblos. She rattled off names but the only ones we recognized were Tecoh, Sotuta and Oxkutzcab. All her friends take the bus each morning (five days a week) and travel between 30 and 90 minutes into Merida to go to school. And each week, besides doing their classwork, these girls (and they are all girls, by the way) are taken out to a different pueblo to do servicios for the townspeople, gratis (for free). This is how they get some practice working on real clients and it seems they do a favor for the people as well, some of whom might have a hard time getting these services. Not every pueblo has a barber shop or a beauty parlor. In fact, in her town of Oxtapakab, Socco told us there are only two people that know how to cut hair: Socco and another woman. And the other woman doesn't like to do it, so she only does it for her family.

She told us that she has dyed her hair twice since starting. Once she got rayos (streaks) and the last time she made herself available to a student taking her final exams who colored her hair to the strawberry blonde color that she has now. She confided in us that she didn't like this color and hopes to turn it mas oscuro muy pronto (darker very soon). We discussed uñas (nails), and she said she would like to learn how to do acrilicos (acrylic nails), but that wearing acrylic nails leaves your real nails muy fea (very ugly) underneath. We caught up on some family gossip. Her sister Mari is embarazada (pregnant) and due in November. She still works at the maquiladora (clothing factory), likes her job and does not want to marry the father, who lives and works in Puerto Morelos. Her mother is feeling well and she and her father are enjoying their new business venture, a pig farm collectively owned and run by nine women in the town of Oxtapakab. We hope to visit the little piggies soon. There are 20 cochinos, 10 grandes y 1 semanal (literally, the inseminator... what we would most likely recognize as a big male pig stud muffin).

Throughout the entire conversation, Socco was diligently and carefully filing WG's nails, soaking and trimming her cuticles and cleaning them. It took her about 40 minutes to do just that, but WG was very grateful for the care she took to not hurt her (scissors and cuticles don't always go well together) and very impressed by the clean, manicured result. Socco talked cheerfully about how much she was enjoying school, but she didn't have to. It's obvious in the way she carries herself and the way she looks. Three months ago, she looked like a bored and lost teenager. These days, she is a young woman with a smile on her face and a purpose.

I think we WGs both agree that this is the best $70 a month we've spent in a long time.



  • Dreaming of Yucatan 13 years ago

    Great article! We are both looking at moving to the area - part of a semi-retired plan. My esposa has been in the hair industry for 15 years, and we were also contemplating the same idea. Kathryn, email us - iluvspd at and lets compare notes!

    Gringa! thanks for the articles! BTW - I'm in the computer industry, so if you need any help .... :)

    Clarence and Nadia

  • Kathryn 13 years ago

    Buenas dias, Working Gringo, I have been sitting here reading your website back to front for hours now and have enjoyed it immensely !!!!! I just finished the "Beauty School "article and was very interested as I am a hairstylist in Canada who has a salon, and is hoping to relocate to Merida with my husband. My husband is in the hospitality industry.We are trying to come up with ways to supplement our retirement income and contribute to the town or city we relocate to. In my case possibly a hair salon in which I would hire someone to help and to teach them what I know. I believe we will be in Merida for the month of March. It is one of the places we have not been in Mexico although we have been traveling to Mexico for 30 years. If you have any thoughts on this or anyone else does I would like to hear from you , espero que tienes un prospero anno y felicidad !!!!

  • Kim Galle 17 years ago

    This is really a very heart-warming tale. Thanks for being such great people. And thanks for blogging with such diligence. You are helping me get my daily fix of Mexico when I can't get enough of my own here in Boston.

    Just back from El D.F. for the weekend, and already wanting to go back.


    Señor Kim

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