A leap of faith

What would you do? You’re in a foreign country, don’t speak the language, and you (really) need a haircut. Would you a) wait till you get back home, or b) find a haircutter in the foreign country and go for it? (Beth asks these questions as we travel; Joe doesn’t; he brings his haircutter of 40+ years with him.)

Beth came to the realization (as she sat in the salon chair in Porto and watched her shorn hair descend to the ground) that she has reaped success when traveling by taking little “leaps of faith” on unfamiliar terrain. It’s not always easy. It doesn’t always work out, but, when it does work, she is rewarded with pleasure for having risen to the challenge and trusting that “it will work out.”


Haircutter in Porto

As we travel we try new foods. Sometimes that’s easy, but other times we take a leap of faith and trust it’ll work. For example, we asked the waitperson at Bugo Art Burgers,  in Porto, for advice on the topping for our lentil burger. She gave a few options and said her personal favorite was Porto + Serra, a very strong tasting sauce described as “onion confit in port wine, topped with traditional Portuguese ‘Serra da Estrela’ cheese”. Okaaay? We hesitated – and then went for it. Result: absolutely wonderful! Eating strange and ugly seafood like espada (black scabbardfish) required a few days for the idea to settle in before we were brave enough to try it. The taste? Excellent!

We picked up this Portuguese cheese in our local food market and crossed our fingers it would work on our homemade burritos.  It was good!

We picked up this Portuguese cheese in our local food market and crossed our fingers it would work on our homemade burritos. It was good!

We take a leap of faith each time we get on public transportation in a new city, in a new country, with other passengers maybe or maybe not speaking our language and we certainly not speaking theirs. We’ve learned to enjoy taking public transportation, as an easy and inexpensive way to traverse a long distance or just to get across town.

DSC08925 - Version 2

Trolley in Porto

Many friends stay in chain hotels in foreign countries “so we know what we’re getting,” surrounded by people who speak their language, and food they are comfortable with in the restaurants. However, by taking that little leap of faith to stay in a small local inn or an AirBnB, taking a risk, we’ve found that the rewards far outweigh the occasional disappointments.

We’re staying in this wonderful AirBnB in Porto.

We’re staying in this wonderful AirBnB in Porto.

As for that haircut for Beth, only a few blocks from our apartment, we had seen a sign on the street “Tuesday special – short haircuts – 5 euros.” Beth strolled in the next Tuesday with a photo of herself taken after a previous good haircut. The haircutter looked at it, nodded, and confidently took scissors to hair. Beth took a gulp. Sure enough, only 5 euros was the charge, but the result? Ah, just like the good hair cut photo! The moral of the story: with a little leap of faith often comes a pleasant reward. Be prepared in life – and in traveling – to take a leap of faith.


September 2014

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in Around-the World - 2013-14, Portugal - Europe and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A leap of faith

  1. Kathy says:

    Your leaps of faith continue to inspire me. Happy to hear the Porto leaps had soft landings. the AirBnB room looks cozy and comfy. Enjoy the rest of your stay there and safe travels to you both!

  2. kevinearl says:

    I remember the time I got my haircut for the first time living in Hungary. I still didn’t speak the language that well having only been there a couple of weeks, but I desperately needed a haircut. So, I took a leap of faith and said in the most simple Hungarian: “like this, shorter.” It worked, and I got a great haircut. When I lived in China, I let my hair grow being too scared to go get a haircut without speaking the language. After all, I had seen men’s hairstyles in the country. After about four or five months my hair was bugging me, so I plucked up the courage and went to one of the many salons around the university. I sat down and just let them cut away. It was a great haircut!

  3. At least if the haircut isn’t what you expected it doesn’t take long to grow out. It’s good to hear that you are enjoying your airbnb stays. We’ve had great success with them too.

  4. jackhonderd says:

    Great post! BTW, a 2 yr round-the-world trip sounds like a BIG leap of faith!


    • Thanks, Jack. You probably are right. However, your comment got us to thinking about the opposite choice one could make, ie to stay at home and continue our same routines. Would that be seen as a a choice, too, and perhaps calling for a different leap of faith?

  5. baidanbi says:

    I agree it’s important to take that leap of faith, but my husband and I have both experienced some pretty bad haircuts. Fortunately hair grows back and you usually end up with a pretty good story. I’m glad yours turned out well, at least this time 🙂

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