Chilling with the girls in Glam-azonia

4 nails kids

Hanging out at Cricia’s “salon”

With delicate expertise, the glossy-haired Cricia carefully applies a second coat of dark green polish to my now scrubbed, trimmed, filed and beautifully buffed fingernails.

Then she gets up and shoos a squawking chicken out through the wooden door.

1 nails c and s

Getting pampered

For the first time in my life, I’m getting a professional manicure. And the salon I’ve chosen for this momentous occasion is Cricia’s family home, in the community of Jamaraquá, found in the National Forest of Tapajós.

Even in this small Amazonian village nestled next to the Tapajós River (home to a handful of coboclos, the traditional riverside dwellers), the Brazilian women take much pride in their appearance.

Never a hair or eyebrow out of place, even when they play football at the village field on Sundays they can’t fail to look glamorous in their pretty, colourful tops.

And a girl’s nails are the height of showcasing femininity, whatever the circumstances.

Vibrantly decorated fingernails sift through piles of crumbly manioc flour, which is painstakingly produced here using the lengthy traditional method, while bright-patterned toenails peep out of pink Havaianas as they wade through the murky brown river water towards a canoe.

5 nails kids

Painting the town green, yellow and blue…

Cricia’s two young daughters giggle at the table as they flick through the piles of her nail design magazines and dip their tiny fingers into small pots of yellow paint.

I try my best not to move as a pair of fluffy chicks run over my ticklish feet, chirping and flapping their way to the tray of grain sat in the kitchen corner, and admire my manicurist’s work.

“It’s nice to look pretty, it makes you feel good about yourself when you’re out and about,” Cricia smiles, her head leaning to one side as she tentatively adds a series of small yellow flowers to her masterpiece using a miniscule brush.

3 nails mags

Brazilian nails come in every colour and design

Her skills are sought after by the old and young of the various forest communities.

I’ve opted for a floral design using the colours of the Brazilian flag.

“Are you going to have a pedicure too?” Cricia’s sparkly-eyed, youthful mum asks as she brings me a cup of coffee.

I cringe as they all look down at the pitiful state of my toenails.

Most of them look scruffy enough, but the worst is the sorry-looking big toenail that I somehow managed to rip clean off during our gruelling hike in Chapada Diamantina (It hurt. A lot.) and has only just started to grow back.

“Maybe not…” Cricia chuckles, before starting to apply a top coat.

6 nails finished

Nailed it!

Hands duly made-over, I pay up six reais(£2) and skip back to the family’s wooden hut by the river beach where Phil and I are staying, to show him my new look.

Cricia’s strict instructions to keep my polished nails in tip-top condition were to avoid handwashing any clothes, so it looks like Phil will have to take my place cleaning the pile of laundry accumulating in the corner of our room.

I could get used to this feminine thing…

About travellingtoothbrushes

We are a couple of journalists with restless toothbrushes. Our teeth scrubbers seem unable to leap out of their respective washbags to take up a permanent residency on the bathroom shelf. So, we've decided to let them live the way they want to and take them on a trip around South America...
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