Volcanic Mud

If you were to ask me what makes a country worth visiting, I could probably narrow my criteria down to the following three items:

  1. How friendly the airport staff are
  2. How well you can meet the locals/ how friendly people are
  3. If they have a good bath house or spa

Tonight I was able to check off my last one at Casa Luna spa – Barry suggested I go have a massage and volcanic mud bath (knowing, of course, my love of all things spa related). Let me set the scene for you – a bungalow right at the edge of the jungle… a glass of sparkling wine… crickets chirping and frogs making whatever sound it is that poison dart frogs make. At one point, sometime after the hot cucumber slice slid off my right eye, I looked like a rather muddy pirate, complete with a cucumber eye patch. Not at all like the relaxed, heavenly looking person in the brochures – but honestly, I’m okay with that.

While I was being lathered up with mud, I thought back to the first time I had a massage…

For my 18th (I think?) birthday, my girlfriends took me to a massage parlor in town as a surprise (unwelcome & awkward). Some guy who looked rather like a Swedish Fabio announced that he would be giving me a massage, while the girls trekked off into another room. To say that I was uncomfortable was an understatement – I had to be convinced to remove my tshirt, and could not be convinced to remove anything else. Fabio, or whatever his name was, apparently couldn’t comprehend that someone could be THAT awkward about the whole experience, but alas I’m good at making first impressions and setting records for awkward behavior. I’m sure he took it as a learning experience.

I pretty much thought that would be my first and last experience in a massage parlor – To think that almost ten years later I would be a bath house junkie (is there a better word for someone obsessed in this case?) was totally unfathomable. I’ve had amazing experiences – here’s looking at you Georgia with your beautiful sulphur baths – and incredibly awkward ones, Fabio aside – Turkish baths in Antalya “So do you play any instruments?” – and evenly professionally questionable ones, the time the Egyptian woman in the top of a villa decided we both needed a bath (I’ve never been back there). In Burma, I remember feeling nervous at first to be THAT exposed in the village, but in the end my $1 haircut and $4 massage and scrub erased any feeling that it was ever anything BUT perfection.

If I could go back and tell my 18 year old, very North American, body-conscious self something, it would be “Get over it” – enjoy the experience for what it is, because when it’s over you’re going to feel like you’re walking on clouds.

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