My Hair Is a Mess, But This Raw Milk Is Delicious- Living for a Month in Slovenia
“Are you sure this is shampoo?” I yelled from the shower, my once salon quality mane limp and stale, my hands full of the brightest, glowing green stuff I'd ever seen that didn’t light up a bar sign.
“Yes, I think it is. I googled it,” came the reply from the other room, but I was dubious. First, there was no lather, a real shampoo giveaway. Second, it looked and smelled like either muscle soreness lotion or perhaps toilet cleaner.
So there I stood helpless in the shower, my nose burning from the bleachy piquant, reading a label I couldn't understand, scrubbing my head with something I felt sure wasn't shampoo but definitely cleaned something, perhaps grout. For twelve days I did this, reminding myself as I did, “Must google 'shampoo' when I get out of here,” always failing to remember to do so when I got out. It ended up being neither shampoo nor toilet cleaner, but it was somewhere on the scale, leaning one of those directions, and it doesn't matter. I smelled like Ben-Gay and my hair felt like a bristle brush, but I didn't care. I had things to do, you see; places to go, sights to see, worlds to conquer. You live and learn.
There are in Slovenia, more strewn than scattered, milk vending machines. These little wonders dispense only fresh raw milk and are finely tuned to prohibit dispensing any milk that has gone off, either by date or by temperature. And it's so simple. Get your 1 liter bottle for 30 cents from the same kind of vending machine that spirals out your Snickers bar in the hospital waiting room, insert a 1 euro coin, place your reusable bottle under the spout, and push Start. It's even conveniently marked “Start,” in English, the only thing on the machine that’s not written in Slovenian. Thank God for small miracles
I like milk, but I don't love it. I like it with things more than by itself. And I've grown used to being able to read the morning news through a glass of low fat milk...that's how it goes. That is, until I tasted the sweet nectar from the cow gods that flows from these milk fountains come down from heaven. Sweet, creamy, perfectly chilled, thick but not overly so, white in a way that makes you kick yourself for underappreciating the colour...clearly, this nectar was drawn from happy cows only hours ago. I never ever knew it could be this good. You live and learn.
And so it is with each new destination; you wash your hair with an astringent that has proven effective at killing weeds, but you drink raw milk from a mechanical cow's utter. You have to google the sausage to make sure it's pork, not horse, but you get to eat some of the best pizza, washed down with some of the best beer, sitting in an outdoor cafe with your lazy dog, overlooking the river in the most perfect weather you've ever felt.
Traveling, like life, means stumbling. It might be a bit more exposed for us- when we make a mistake it either costs a lot more money, we end up in the wrong country, or we're stuck with a plate of horse meat- but it's still economies of scale in stumbling. And sometimes we stumble upon the most putrid non-shampoo, better suited to cleaning carpets. And sometimes we stumble upon the most glorious glass of milk we have ever tasted, so good that we say, “Hair? Why should we care about our hair? It's just hair.” And I've been reading that milk is good for your hair. You live and learn.