One of my secret pleasures of traveling to remote locales is receiving much more affordable massages. Sure, I manage to splurge a few times a year when I’m stateside, but indulge much more frequently when the cost of numerous massages adds up to a single massage back home. Plus, I’m nearly always headed out sometime in the near future, so it is easier to get myself to resist the temptation when that is the case.
Whether it is Thailand or Kenya, the cost of massages also seems to get cheaper as you get closer to the ocean. My massage yesterday was about $6USD. She offered at about $8 and we agreed on $5, allowing for a tip for her good naturedness. About a 100 meters away at the hotel it would have been several times this for the same quality.
My masseur, Evelyn, proudly shows me a laminated ID card to confirm her professional status. She asks if I’m Dutch, and is excited to learn that I’m American. She says that I am her first American client ever. Not surprising in these parts. She welcomed me into her small palm frond hut with enough space for a classic locally made massage bed. She lays down a colorful sarong and washes the sand from my feet before she begins.
You can hear the ocean crashing and there is a sweet breeze that passes by. I personally like that no matter how hard you try to avoid it, you get the added exfoliation from sand as it mixes with the baby oil. I can’t help but think that I’m glad sunset is strategically coming soon so I won’t become a further magnifying glass for the sun.
You can expect that the training level may not be what you’ll get stateside, but you’ll get earnest good will that makes up for it in my mind, along with the value for money aspect. Evelyn’s hands are bit calloused, clearly relying on standard African women’s work to supplement the low tourist numbers.
Before we begin the beach boys try their hustle. They are more respectful than most and I give them a few moments of my time. I end up agreeing to have them make a key chain for my husband while I get my massage. I negotiate for a fresh coconut to be thrown in as a dash, a nice refreshment after my massage.
We chat and they teach me some Swahili, tell me of their life on the beach while I share with them some of my work and adventures in Africa. They are impressed and glad to see a white lady so accustomed to Africa. They wish more tourist were willing to interact. But then I’m not your typical tourist, I’m considered more of an African by this time.
I tell Evelyn I’ll be back, but today has been nothing but rain and I opt for a massage. Perhaps tomorrow.