Gather around and let me tell you a story. A story of confusion. A story of disgust. A story of hysterical laughter.
After surviving a hot air balloon crash in Luxor and making it to Dahab for some much needed and deserved relaxation, Zoe, my new best travel buddy friend, and I decided we wanted to pamper ourselves with a 5 hour long spa treatment. We signed up for a VIP treatment with a beautician from our hotel. We didn’t really know what the treatment involved, language barriers made this difficult, but we were picturing something exotic. We were, after all, in the land of the pharaohs and gods and were anticipating being treated as such. We were excited. You see, Zoe had had a bad concussion and I could not walk without the aid of crutches or another kind soul, so some pampering was much needed.
At 1:10 that afternoon, we met our beautician at the hotel reception to be transported to another hotel that had the facilities needed for our treatment. This was normal our tour guide assured us, so we climbed into the car, me, rather awkwardly, and departed for our afternoon of relaxation. The commute seemed to take forever, and I could feel my stomach drop with every look the beautician gave us from the peripheral of her eye as we sped away from civilization. I kept thinking “they’re going to take us to a remote location and take my money. Can I defend myself with just one elbow crutch?” But not to despair! We arrived at our destination. A luxurious, glamorous…empty…hotel and were lead through reception to the salon facilities.
We were lead inside and taken to a change room. “Take everything off! Don’t worry, no men” our beautician instructed us. Zoe and I exchanged nervous looks. Were we ready to see each other naked? We’d known each other for 8 days during which time we’d staged photo shoots around the pillars in Karnak, and shared “pee pounds” at roadside restrooms.
No. No, we were not ready. So, we stripped to our bikinis and entered the “hot box” for part one of what would become known as “the treatment.” We boiled alive in the hot box for fifteen minutes until we were retrieved and taken to the Jacuzzi.
This is where the problems really began.
I slowly dipped one foot into the water noticing that it was cold and, was it just the lighting or did the water look a little grey? I submerged my body waist deep and reach out a hand to touch the seat and recoiled! It was slimy! And I had started to notice a retched smell emerge from the water. I tried to tell myself that it was because she had put some sort of beauty products in it, but I couldn’t maintain this lie for long. My mother had at times described baths as ‘witch’s brews;’ I can now totally see her point. So disgusting.
I crinkled my nose and looked at Zoe, she had made the same discoveries. I went to talk to her only to have the Jacuzzi bubbles roar to life and begin to splash my face. I snapped my mouth shut, pressing my lips together and lifting my chin.
When we were done the beautician guided us to the scrub tables one at a time. “Take this off.” She said yanking at my bikini top. Well shit. I took it off and laid flat on my stomach and was halfheartedly scrubbed down with a sugar scrub. “Roll over” she ordered, and I awkwardly did so, and was halfheartedly scrubbed again. Though, I should note particular attention was paid to my breasts. As I lay there mostly naked covered in sugar I closed my eyes, thinking, this can’t get any less relaxing. Surely. When out of the blue she proceeded to slap some sort of mask onto our faces, and wrap us up in towels like mummies. She left us there. For ages. Like, half an hour ages.
When she was ready, the beauticians told us each to shower off and shuffled us to the showers which only had one temperature: fucking freezing. My friend asked if there was any hot water but we received no answer (how mysterious).
We were then taken to the steam room, which was so dense with steam that I actually walked into the tiled bench, then was left sitting there, basically naked and completely confused as to what was happening with my new travel, breast bearing buddy. About ten minutes later, the beautician mysteriously emerged out of the steam and told us to lie face down on the tiles for exfoliation. And what an exfoliation it was. It was as though she thought my skin was cheese that needed grating. Then, out of nowhere, she tipped a bucket of hot soapy water on us and told us to “wait five minutes” before mysteriously disappearing back into the steam.
Fifteen minutes later we had still not heard from our beautician. Had she forgotten us? Where we somehow forever lost in the steam? Was this my life now?
Suddenly I heard a surprised, high pitched shout from Zoe. I imminently tensed, visions of her being swallowed into the steam flashing before my eyes like some sort of B-grade horrow movie. But it wasn’t long before I discovered what had befallen her, and oh how I wished I had remained ignorant, for a sudden jet of icy water shot out from the steam, hosing me down from top to bottom, and I too screamed and almost slipped right of the tiled bench.
Shocked, dazed and confused, towels were placed over our heads and we were marched out of the treatment room straight through reception to the massage room. My pale, crippled legs on full display. I shuffled along on the tiles like an old lady, thinking the probability of me slipping on my bad leg and cracking my head on the tiles, leaving my naked body in full view of whoever was in reception was a genuine possibility. What a way to die right?
At this point I thought, “OK. I’m about to have a massage, surely this will be OK.” It wasn’t. The ‘massage’ (if you could call it that) was basically the beautician rubbing some moisturiser all over my body, with a heavy focus on my feet and breast (fetish perhaps?). I kept hearing Zoe say “Can you press a little harder?” only for the masseuse to lighten her touch.
The pampering session ended with us being herded back into the change room then seated on the balcony to watch the sunset. The beautician approached and gave us both small cups of coffee. “Cigarette?” She offered, while we waited for a ride home.
You might also be interested in: