Today was a long day. I didn’t sleep last night at all. I tossed and turned all night with stomach cramps, getting up hourly to visit the baño [toilet]. It was not a pleasant night. This morning, I went to class against my better judgement, because I was so proud de mi composición por mi tarea [of my composition for my homework]. Está lo es [this is it]:
r: Buenas tarde. Quiero comprar una vaca.
[Good afternoon. I want to buy a cow.]
t: Si señor. Esa vaca negra es buena.
[Yes sir. This black cow is good.]
r: ¡Pero ésa no tiene una ubre! Quiero leche, no quiero carne.
[But that one doesn’t have an udder! I want milk, I don’t want meat.]
t: No, señor, ésa tiene una ubre, pero es pequeña por que ésa chupo esta mañana.
[No, sir, that one has an udder, but it’s small because that one was milked this morning.]
r: Si, si, me gusta aquella vaca con una ubre muy grande.
[Yes, yes, I want that cow over there with a really big udder.]
t: ¡Señor, aquélla es mi esposa!
[Mister, that one over there is my wife!]
Not Shakespeare, but I was rather proud of it.
Anyhow, I was in class just long enough to turn in my homework before I decided that being there was a really bad idea. So I went home and slept.
This afternoon, Ana and I were signed up for a traditional steam and massage. After sleeping for a few hours, I felt much better, so I went.
A moment to describe Ana. She’s in her early sixties, from El Paso Texas, and full of life. The more I learn about her the more I like her. She has an eye for art, and knows the stories of various artists. She pronounces spanish like she’s calling a square dance, and I’m amazed that the teachers can understand her. The other day she was walking my my house looking for a B&B called ‘Las Bugambilias’ (mentioned earlier.) I knew where it was, so I offered to walk her down there. When we got there, she told me she was going to do a traditional mexican massage. When she found out that the masseurs were capable of doing two people at the same time, she asked me along, and I agreed.
So Ana and I are in a cab heading of to this place, and we have absolutely no idea of what to expect. The cab dropped us off in a cul-de-sac with 6 doorways, none of them marked in any way whatsoever. We knocked on the most ‘professional’ looking one, and the lady who answered directed us to the next door down, which looked just like someone’s house. We rang the bell, and an elderly lady in an embroidered white dress answered. She looked confused for a moment, but then let us in.
Entering the garden was like stepping into a new-age retreat in Sedona, Arizona. The garden was huge, and full of equal numbers of flowers and butterflys. Two hammocks swung invitingly on the veranda, and we were invited to rest in them while our baño was prepared.
After about ten minutes, we were taken to a small log house in the corner of the garden. The interior was lit with candles, and decorated with altarpieces and pictures of the Virgin. We were given bedsheets, and retreated to our separate alcoves to remove out clothes and wrap ourselves in the sheets. When we were changed, one of the elderly ladies entered and opened a little door on on side of the room.
The door led to a small room, perhaps 8 feet square and only 4 feet high. We crawled in and settled ourselves seated cross-legged against one wall. In one corner was a small brick pit filled with hot rocks and topped with red tiles. There were also two buckets of water and a huge pile of green herbs.
Once we were settled, the señora explained that we were to meditate for 10 minutes, and then the other señora would enter. She left, closed the door, and turned off the light. We were left to sweat in the dark. When you’re in the dark with your thoughts and oppressive heat, 10 minutes is a long time. I breathed in and out, trying to meditate but only managing to conjugate spanish to myself over and over.
Finally the door opened and the more elderly woman entered. She was wearing a white dress and a white cloth draped over her head. She brought in a single candle and closed the door.
Next she took half of the herbs, dunked them into the buckets of water, and through them onto the hot tiles. When this was done, she poured an additional bowlful of water over the tiles. The room immediately got *much* hotter, and started smelling strongly of parsley. We sat there, breathing in and out, not saying anything. I was sweating heavily, which I guess is the point.
After a while, she took the herbs off of the hot stones and put them off to the side, replacing them with the other half of the herbs and more water. When the herbs had cooled enough, she took a bunch and started flagellating us with them, saying some sort of prayer (I didn’t catch it, but I heard ‘cuerpo’ and ‘espiritu’ [‘body’ and ‘soul’].) When we were thoughoughly whipped, she put one hot bunch of herbs between our back and the wall, another in our lap, and another against our chest. I felt like a salad.
We sat there, marinating, for the remainder of an hour. Occasionally the señora would replace the herbs with new bunches freshly warmed from the fire. Occasionally she would open one of the little doors and let in a cool breeze.
Finally, after an hour, our herbs were taken away. She filled her bowl from the bucket and began pouring the water over our heads, back, and shoulders. The water was warm, and felt fantastic. We were soaking wet, and clean.
We were given a new cloth to wipe ourselves with, and I dried and (this was tricky) wrapped myself in the new cloth, discarding the old. I crawled out of the room, and was given yet another sheet to wear, which I wrapped around myself. Ana and I then lay side-by-side on our backs, just resting for ten minutes or so.
Finally the massage started. It was a pretty normal massage, albeit complete. Every part of me was kneaded and stretched, from my feet to my hair. At one point the señora was kneeling on my butt working on my back with her hands. My hands, my feet (mmmmmmm), and my ears were all worked on. After an hour of this I was a pudding.
It was an amazing experience. Not always comfortable, but the sort of experience that I’m glad I had.
Contact: Mariana Emilia Arroyo Cabrera
C.P. 68000 Centro
+52 (951) 516 1165