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Spa de Elena

Alibi’s Ilene Style reports from her volunteer mission in South America

Aniseta y Olionia, Spa de Elena
Aniseta y Olionia, Spa de Elena

My new name in Peru is "Elena." The abuelos at Los Martincitos call me that because it is much easier for them to pronounce than "Ilene.” I soon realized that "Elena" it was much easier for ALL Peruvians to pronounce, so that is how I introduce myself now.


At work last week, I hung out a shingle and opened my very own nail salon, Spa de Elena, and gave manicures to the abuelas. My lack of experience was not a problem; after all, what self-respecting girl from the Big Apple doesn't know everything there is to know about mani/pedis? Apparently, receiving manicures is quite a special treat for the abuelas, as I had a large number of them crowding around me when they saw me bringing a shoebox full of nail paraphernalia to a small table that Hermana Jacci and I had set up. The nail polish and accoutrements are all donations from former voluntarias.


Some of the polishes were dried out to the point of being almost unusable, but that didn't bother the abuelas. I had to dispense with niceties such as nail soaking, cuticle trimming and clipping/filing early on, as the abuelas were interested only in having their nails painted the brightest and most garish colors that were still usable. They awaited their turns patiently, and despite my warnings of "¡No toca nada!" (don't touch anything!) when their manicures were finished, they immediately went off and touched everything in sight, effectively ruining their manicures within minutes. They then lined up again for me to fix the smears. My frustration eventually gave way to laughter, as it is hard to be cross with someone who is so excited, even for just a few minutes, about her newfound beauty.

Maria Antoineta
Maria Antoineta

Check out the "after" photos of some of my new spa clients.

Maria Rivera
Maria Rivera
Read the rest of the blogs in this series here.

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