Monday, January 3, 2011

Seeing in the New Year in style

In the end, I decided to see in the New Year in style. I might be here on my own, I might be missing My One True Love and the pussins with an ache that feels like a broken bone, I might not have any parties to go to because all my friends have gone home for the holiday - but dammit, that doesn't mean I have to sit in the porno palace on my own, I thought.

So I picked myself up, dusted myself down, and drove off to the best spa in town.

There's something very special about pampering yourself for no particular reason. I decided that I deserved a Moroccan bath, because it sounded especially decadent and exotic.And it was - oh, it was.

A Moroccan bath is similar to a traditional hammam experience. An Arabian hammam is a complex of rooms, with walls, floor and ceiling made out of marble, stone or tiles, and filled with steam. Traditionally there are three rooms - hot, breathlessly hot, and incandescent. You move from one to the other, sitting in wall niches or even lying on the floor, as the steam relaxes you and sweats you out and loosens all your horrid dead skin (uck). There are recessed bathing pools of water (they range in temperature from arctic, to cool, to hot, to scalding) that you plunge in an out of to wake yourself up/restore feeling to your limbs/boil yourself in. Then you can have any one of an infinite number of treatments - scrubs, rassoul, aloe vera, massage, etc etc.

I figured that after the week I've had, a massage was in order. So I got there early, put on my swimmers, and opened the door to the hammam- where the air was so thick with steam that I couldn't actually see, and I had to feel my way around by putting my hands on the hot, wet walls, a la Marcel Marceau.

I blindly found a wall niche and lay down to relax. The only sound was the slow drip of water from the ceiling to the marble floor, and the hiss of steam from the floor vents, and the heat was so extreme that I drifted into a sort of relaxed delirium, with my limbs like logs of pudding and my brain turned gently to "simmer". There was so much water pouring off me I couldn't tell what was steam, condensation or sweat. I was not capable of a single lucid thought. It was heavenly.

I spent the next 40 minutes alternately steaming myself silly at 49 degrees and plunging in and out of the hot and cold pools to recover and/or shock myself back into awakening. I was the only person there - no doubt because every other citizen in Bahrain was out having fun at a party - and it was fantastic, because I literally had the place to myself.

My masseuse eventually came and got me, and guided me into the massage room - she actually held my arm like I was a little baby, and put her hand in the small of my back, as a safety measure I think, explaining that after steam you can feel "like you fall down". Too true.

It's a wet room, because of the scrubbing, and they pipe steam in to keep you warm and open up your pores, and it was just magic. I had to strip off completely, and then she gave me a skin scrub so vigorous that it felt like it took off five layers of skin, followed by a shampoo and conditioning treatment, massage, and wash from head to toe. 

After an hour and a half of being scrubbed, pummelled, massaged and washed,  she stood me up, disappeared for a moment, came back with a bucket of iced water perfumed with rose oil, and doused me completely in it! I actually squealed like a little girl as the cold water hit me and took all the breath out of my lungs. She laughed at me and explained it was good for my pores and to smell nice. Which is no doubt true.

Then I got to put on a giant fluffy robe and slippers, got guided into a relaxation room like a baby again, was fed ginger tea and fresh fruit, and dozed happily for half an hour in the candlelight until I felt capable of actually standing up and getting dressed again. It was perfect - just what I needed.

And then I went home, watched a dvd and had my first alcohol-free New Year's Eve in ... well, perhaps my entire adult life, actually. And went to bed at 11pm because I couldn't keep my eyes open, so in the end I actually missed midnight.

Thus did I pass the New Year - and it was wonderful.


willywagtail said...

Wonderful. I've just had a lovely one hour massage and half hour facial up in the Blue Mountains but your experience sounds even better. Just love the idea of all the yuck floating away and then being doused in rose water. Heavenly. Cherrie

polly pratt said...

Happy New Year

Sounds fantastic:)

Isabella Golightly said...

Very Very Happy New Year - that sounds wonderful. My evening of Star Trek Monopoly can't compete at all!

Sarah said...

Sounds absolutly DEVINE!

Posie Patchwork said...

That is serious style!! I'm having a massage & facial before my husband leaves us again, he has 2 more years living interstate & i have teens on the horizon. Massage, ahhhhh, love Posie

Anonymous said...

sounds heavenly!