Sunday, February 21, 2010

Peru Day 16: Una Masaje

OK, I finally got a massage here. But it was later in the day, so you'll just have to wait to read about (or I guess you could just scroll down).

Today was one of those do-whatever-you-want kind of days. I spent a ridiculous amount of time at an Internet cafe, shopped for gifts and enjoyed a late lunch at Mercado San Pedro. I ordered the lomo saltado at one of the food stands, a dish with beef, papas fritas (french fries), rice, tomatoes and an egg on top. It's served in a bowl and is YUMMY. I just wish I could finish it!

I slowly walked back to my hotel for a little nap but the beauty of the square and the desire to people watch lured me to a shady bench for a while. I realized that I needed to start soaking all of this in as much as possible becausr I've only got a few more days left in Cusco.

I eventually did make it back to my hotel, dropped off my packages and picked up my laundry at the lavanderia (I love this: for about $3.50, I can drop off an entire bag of dirty othes and pick them up clean and folded at the end of the day. It makes packing for a trip like this very easy -- even though I still overpacked). I made plans with a friend to meet him later in the evening and headed out to find a massage.

As I mentioned earlier, the therapists are out in full force and they hawk their services almost like sex. I know these are legitimate therapists (for the most part), but I've found it increasingly more difficult to give in and get one because of how they advertise.

I stopped to talk to the second woman who approached me and asked her how long she went to school for massage. She said six months. I knew I should have walked away then and there but then her young daughter ran across the street to hug her and give me a flyer and I knew that this 25 sole massage (about $8) was going to be a lot of money for her. So, I agreed and off we went.

The massage room was all the way in the back of a bunch of souvenir shops, down a dark corridor and up some stairs. The room was spacious and dimly lighted. She changed the music to something more relaxing and showed me where I could change. I didn't feel uncomfortable but I can't say I was relaxed either. I was hoping her touch would change that.

Sadly, it didn't. While she wasn't bad, her technique was amateur at best and her pace was too fast to really effect any change. She left the room twice during the session -- once to clip her nails and once to bring in some hot stones (again, not used effectively) -- and her daughter interrupted us once as well.

The work reminded me of a first semester massage student at the end of the term. She didn't know a lot but had a general idea of what to do. She really didn't understand the importance of sinking through the layers of tissue nor how to vary her pace. It was like she had been stuck giving the same massage over and over again for the past 2 years without ever changing her techniques to suit the client's needs.

Wow, I just realized that I gave her work far more credit than it deserved by comparing her to my Level 1 students.

When the session was over I just couldn't resist myself. I got dressed, called her back in and showed her a few techniques. She used her thumbs A LOT so I showed her a few other body parts (elbow, forearm, etc.) she could start using to save her thumbs. I tried to explain that she'll be out of a job if her thumbs give out and she doesn't have any alternative "tools," but I don't know if she understood me. What I do know is that she seemed to really enjoy the five minutes she had on the table while I demonstrated these things. Sadly, I'm guessing that regular massage isn't a part of her self-care regimen.

I met up with a friend for a drink at Indigo and we hung out and watched the Olympics for a while. Speed skating was the night's event -- not as boring as I thought it would be.

I made my way back to the hotel by about 10:30. It was rainy and chilly out, similar to earlier in the morning, but such a contrast to the sunny warmth of the middle of the day. The weather here is so unpredictable this time of year but I caught on early in this trip and take a variety of layers with me wherever I go. I kind of forgot them that night though, so I was a little damp when I got back to the hotel.

Mike arrives early tomorow morning. We don't have much time here in Cusco together, but hopefully I'll have enough time to how him what makes this city so special. After he takes a nap.

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