Six days ago I arrived in Tacloban. It was a chaotic but brilliant few days, revisiting some of the people we worked with last year and being at Mama Pat’s 80th birthday.
(Mama Pat was woken at midnight for her first cake of the day!)
Two days ago I left to travel to Cebu-an island next door-where I had planned a lot of lounging in the sun and possibly trying out scuba diving. It turns out though, that typhoons in Manila can affect just about everywhere and it has been a bit like a very slightly warmer version of my childhood holidays in Cornwall; driving rain and wind determined to break something. In my case, my umbrella as I walked to the local beach:
So today I booked myself my first ever full body massage as a treat. I had been warned by friends with experience of holiday massages to ‘avoid anything involving coconut husks’. I checked the ‘menu’ to ensure no abrasives were used and chose one that apparently involved yoga positions. I wasn’t clear if it was me or the masseuse who would be yoga-ing but it sounded interesting.
My masseuse had other ideas when she saw me ‘I think you might prefer something more relaxing’ she suggested ‘the one you have chosen is stretching you, not relaxing you’.
I agreed to go with her suggestion of a relaxing Philippine massage. Only there are definate areas of stress involved in a massage for me. First was when she asked me to choose my oil. I am rubbish at things like this, convinced I will choose the one that smells like toilet cleaner. I chose ‘Laurel’ which 50 minutes later I suspected is exactly what is used to scent Harpic pine fresh.
Next, in the little room screened from the elements and people by only a beaded curtain, she told me to take off my shorts, tshirt and bikini top. I did as I was told but a little voice started wondering in my head just how ‘full’ this massage was and a little panic set in as I lay down on the table.
There was a thingy to look at in the floor through the hole for my head. I marvelled at the thoughtfulness of this before becoming very irritated by it:
The dolphins were not evenly spaced. Were there meant to be 6 and they didn’t have room for them all or had someone just put the 5 in incorrectly? Or was it just positioned wrong on the floor? Luckily this line of thinking was stopped before it could get any more out of hand when the masseuse slapped my feet. Repeatedly.
I then moved between ‘oh that is lovely’ and ‘what the hell?!’ with alarming regularity as she attempted to dislocate each toe (ok, that bit just made me giggle), climbed onto my back, forced the air out of my lungs with some serious back prodding and at one point I started to worry if she’d had a criminal background check done as she appeared to be trying to rip my head from my neck…
Weirdly, overall I found it quite relaxing, although that could have just been relief that I survived. It finished with a tiny cup of ginger tea, so gingery my mouth burned, but I made it through that too.
Before I left my room for the massage I had looked quite presentable. For some reason I had even straightened my hair. When I got back I looked in the mirror. I thought my reflection summed up the experience quite well….: