My Awkward, yet Authentic, Honduran ‘Spa’ Experience

Because it’s me and shit ALWAYS goes wrong there were a few moments on my trip I could have done without. While on my second dive I went to look up and had shooting pain down my shoulder, leaving me only able to look down. This is not the safest scenario when scuba diving since there are many creatures in the sea that are above or in front of you, as well as large coral formations that will hurt very badly if you swim head first into them (or so I’ve heard). Upon reaching land I contacted the hotel spa to see if there was any availability for a deep tissue massage, but there wasn’t because of course.

The Mayan Divers dive shop owner, Edward, suggested I try a local Honduran man who gets rave reviews from the islanders. The only catch, he doesn’t have a phone, and is located in the vague spot of “somewhere up in the mountains”. I was desperate, and at that point I didn’t care where the man lived, it was a Sunday and all other options were unaccessible. I needed help.

Edward arranged for Alex, one of the boat captains, to drive me to the gentleman. Alex and I chit chatted on the drive, he is a very nice guy that is probably 20 years younger than me and I’m sure was wondering how the hell he ended up with this assignment. He had a general idea where the masseur lived, but had to pull over repeatedly to get more succinct directions. I tried to ignore the pain and focus on how I was experiencing the island like a local, really getting a feel for the terrain and the people – both of which were beautiful.

When we finally arrived at the gentleman’s home we entered through the large metal gates that separated his home from his neighbors. There was a small dirt covered yard that was uneven with holes, a wooden chair, a wooden ramshackle structure off to the side, and a tree creating a nice shaded canopy. Alex and I sat in the small waiting area outside his even tinier studio. Two little dogs ran loose, one was covered in mange, but wagged his tail happily and was very excited to receive a pet. Speaking no Spanish I have no idea what was discussed between Alex and the gentleman when he finally drew back his sheet/curtain to usher me into his work area. The space had a table covered with a sheet, that I can assure you had not been changed between customers (I prefer not to think about how many customers it could be), room for a small wooden bar stool, and enough area for the masseur to work on one side of me at a time. There was one electrical outlet that was overflowing with contraptions, and I tried to not think of the potential fire hazard of my new found spa.

He spoke no English, leaving Alex to be our translator. I was instructed to lay on the table face down and I tried to focus on the pain and not the hygiene of the situation. After all, I was in his country and I was in desperate need of his services, this was not to the time to be overly concerned about aesthetics or cleanliness. The gentleman would make a request, Alex would translate for both of us while he sat inches from me. I was wearing an athletic top with a built in bra, and when I was instructed to take my arms out of the shoulder straps I am about 100% sure poor Alex got a good look at what 40 year old mom boobs look like, and I’m sure he was almost as horrified as me. I choose to look away and focus on the pain and not the embarrassment. The masseur diagnosed me as being “stressed”, not a huge surprise given the last few months of my life. He recommended three 20 minute appointments to heal me of my pain, rubbed something smelling very much of Bengay on my shoulders, used a mechanical back massager that looked a whole lot like every woman’s favorite toy, The Wand. His nimble little fingers kneaded my neck and shoulders with the strength of a 1000 men and sent me on my way.

I didn’t return to my Honduran spa the rest of the week, mainly because I was able to move enough to survive and didn’t want to miss out on any moments with my son, but man was he worth every penny. All it cost me was $20, a quick boob flash, and putting my face on a sheet that many others had laid on – so basically it was like my college spring break minus the hangover.

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