Monday, October 26, 2009

Indulgence or Health Care?

I highly recommend trying bodywork or spa therapies while traveling as it really gives you a whole other view into a culture. For those of you who follow my Traveling Naturally blog, you might remember my somewhat comical post about a spa-massage experience I had in Provence, France almost two years ago. In Avignon I tried a Hammam-Spa-Massage package which consisted of a steam room, warm Jacuzzi and massage. Since that was so restorative, I decided to try the Hammam + Masaje (Hammam with Massage) here in Valencia, Spain. Thanks to the French spa, I was a bit prepared for the initial part of my spa session. Waiting for me in a neat pile on a bench by my locker was a towel - much larger than its French counterpart, and a disposable thong and slippers. So once again in all my middle-aged glory (or not so glorious as the case may be) I donned my basically non-existent groin-cloth and padded my way into an atmospheric room lit with candles and with soothing music playing in the background. Sweet Laresa brought me a warm infusion (herbal tea) and told me to relax. I sat naked (does a disposable thong really count as clothing? I think not) in a sling chair sipping my unusual and comforting brew.

Laresa reappeared in a short unitard, and instructed me to lie down, face up, on the massage table that was covered with a plastic sheet she had just thrown warm water on....hmmm this was going to be interesting. Indeed, and heavenly - I was basically rinsed, washed, massaged, scrubbed from head and hair to toe with giant piles of bubbles layered on my torso as a sort of cover. Once this luxurious cleansing was complete, Laresa had me move into a large bathtub filled with bubbly warm water. I lay soaking for a few minutes and then she escorted me to the nearby shower where I was told to alternate between hot and cold rinses. This was all divine, and I felt wonderful. I assumed my appointment was complete, having lost all sense of time. When I turned off the water and came out of the shower, Laresa appeared as if by magic and told me to dry off, wrap my hair in a towel, put on a new, dry thong and slippers and her colleague would come retrieve me for my massage. I could hardly believe my ears.

Sure enough, a lovely young woman appeared and led me down a dimly lit hallway into a cozy massage room. Here she massaged my whole body for what seemed a deliciously long amount of time, and spent an extensive amount of time on my head and face which were in dire need as I have taken to some kind of jaw clenching as part of my hormonal changes.

While different in many of the particulars of my French spa experience, the overall effect was quite similar - that is I felt quite nourished, nurtured, restored and rejuvenated. And while part of my brain was thinking of this as an indulgence, the rest of my brain and whole body were feeling the clear and absolute health benefits. This is truly health care - not sick care. This is treating the body well, taking care of it, investing in it, and allowing it to receive.

Imagine if this is what we were hoping to give everyone a right to....... how different the world would be.

This particular experience took place at the Navarro Spa Catala, Arzobispo Mayoral 11, 46001 Valencia Spain; Tel: 963 524 334;

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