Wednesday, June 07, 2006

La Masajista

Soon after we arrived in Pátzcuaro, after a month or more of stressful planning, packing, moving and driving (culminated with our car transmission failure), I learned that our local doctor's clinic offered temascal, traditional sweat lodge. But more attractive to me, they had a masajista on call. I arranged an appointment.
While the massage room was none too plush, the skills of the masajista were impressive. Like our doctor, she is an adherent of natural and herbal medicine. Some of the treatment was briefly uncomfortable as she worked out the knots in my body, but at the end, I felt considerably better. I was wishing that there had been a more comfortable table, especially desiring a head rest, but considering that the fee was $100 MXP, (about $9.25 USD) I had little room for complaint.

When I decided to return for another treatment, circumstances prevented us from using the treatment area at the clinic, so we drove to her home, up in the barrio. I had some qualms, but they dissipated that this kind massage practioner would be sure that I was "in good hands." In her home studio, la Señora provides a few more amenities and comforts. There are pillow and bolsters.

It is a small estudio off the patio of the modest family home. The setting for your treatment is unlike any before experienced in the U.S.
There are cages of lively talking parrots just outside the door. The extended family is out in the patio and the other rooms, going about their daily life. Sometimes rollicking música ranchera plays from a CD player or radio. On one visit, the family was finishing up their comida at a table near the estudio.
There is no New Age music there nor scented candles burning.

Inside the small treatment room, lit dimly by the sun filtering through the curtains, is a narrow massage table. To the side are shelf after shelf of herbal remedies, oils and unguents.
On the back wall, large posters of La Virgen de la Salud, and of Jesu Cristo gaze down benevolently but watchfully. This is a serious place and no funny business is part of the deal.

Every treatment has a background of local sounds: the music, children playing, the cocks crowing, the parrots showing off their language skills, but fortunately, not all at once all of the time. Yesterday, I went in the late afternoon and was greeted by a surprise. The family is adding a second storey to their home. So, the first part of the massage had the background of workmen loudly dragging and scraping materials on the rooftop directly over the studio. That didn't affect the quality of the treatment. About midway through, the rain began, and the ruferos ceased and took shelter. It was especially pleasant to have la Señora's skilled hands at work while listening to the downpour.

When it was done, it ended in the customary way. La Señora gently and lovingly puts your socks on your feet and leaves you to rest a ratito on the table.

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