Rub me up. Rub me down. Getting massages the whole world ’round.
For some, getting a massage can be a very scary experience. Getting undressed, allowing a stranger to cover your body with oils or knead the muscles in your back to the point where you want to cry out in pain though it’s hurting so good. Strange techniques are only one of the things you will encounter when getting a massage while traveling. In my 24 years of life on this planet, I have traveled a decent amount and I always enjoy “treating myself” to a little massage now and then. I’ve had massages in Mexico, India, Thailand, Moldova and the United States of America. Every experience was unique and interesting in its own way.
In India they used aromatic oils and long swift strokes over my entire body while wearing a sarong. I had to depend heavily on nonverbal communication as I was off the beaten path and my masseuse did not speak very much English. It was here that I learned a little bit about reflexology, as according to my new intimate acquaintance I was not eating enough curry to regulate the starch intake of Indian food.
Thailand was probably my favorite experience. Thai massage is much like a yoga workout and a chiropractic appointment all in one. It’s fantastic and can be fun for someone who is a little bit flexible. Verbal communication was not an issue on this occasion but I was able to really feel a difference the next day.
Moldova has probably been the most basic massage but one of the more talkative experiences I’ve had. After sleeping on a futon for several months with my Peace Corps service my back was beginning to hurt and knots were forming in my neck, shoulders and lower back. I knew I needed to do something but I didn’t really want to travel to the capital city to see medical. So, at work I was talking about my knots with Maria the hairdresser and my partner at work, Zina and they both decided I needed to call Olgita.
Olga, is a very petite woman who came right to my house and gave me a massage while I laid on top of my bed. We chatted in Romanian, made some small talk, discussed my projects and then she moved on to religion. We stayed on the topic for a long time (all while she is rubbing my knots and pulling my skin and muscles and slapped it back into place) despite my efforts to change the subject.
At the end of my massage Olgita refused to take any money from me but I slipped her some Moldovan lei anyway and as I did this she slipped me a book about becoming a Jehovah’s Witness. The religious talk during my massage at a time when I would rather have relaxed started to make complete sense.
All in all I made a friend in my town and every time I walk down the street and I see Olga she is all smiles and asks me about my health, my “nods” or knots and God.