If you are unfamiliar with Temazcal, or the traditional Mexican sweat bath, you can check it out here. If you know, or are too lazy to click, just continue on and you’ll get the gist of the process.
First, a little background:
This all occurred during my trip to Mexico City. I had been working in Mexico and during a vacation, a group of co-workers and I decided to see the sights. We had friends, also co-workers, who lived in DF (Distrito Federal) who were willing to put us up during the week vacation. This was the same vacation where I saw some crazy zoo critters. The night previous to this adventure, we had gone out partying. Hard. I may post about that some day.
It’s an early rise when you’re going to Indian Igloo, as it’s called where I was. An early rise that smelled like I jumped in a bottle of vodka and felt like a jackhammer in my head. Nonetheless, I donned my sunglasses and went along for the ride as a good guest would.
Upon arrival, I am left in the sitting area while the friend that I stayed with and his mother went somewhere. I had no idea where at the time as I was concentrating on not sharing all of last night’s alcohol with them. A lady came to me with a glass of some sort of fluid and told me that I had to drink it all. It looked like OJ so I was quite content to chug it down. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just OJ. It had kind of a funny taste to it that I couldn’t place. Considerably after the fact, I found out that my OJ had been spiked with garlic. The funny thing is that it didn’t taste that bad, or at least not bad enough that I wouldn’t drink it. After a while, my friend showed up and showed me a room to go into to change into my bathing suit. Traditionally, you would go into the Igloo naked, but I’m not tight with them like that.
So now I’m all changed and ready to go. A small ceremony is performed outside the Igloo before we go in. We enter one at a time and get situated on the floor. It is hotter than the seventh level of hell in this little place and it doesn’t help that it’s pitch black inside and there are about 3 or 4 other people in there with us. My friend makes sure I’m all situated and then we lay. Quietly.
Some folks believe that if you clear your mind and allow it to come, in the Igloo, you will see your spirit guide. Having some Native American blood running through me, I was open to this idea. Other folks might say that they make it so hot in there that you hallucinate, which might not be that far off either.
I believe that my body pushed out all of the previous evening’s vodka and I got everyone in the Igloo drunk but I like to belive crazy things. After a while, a tin of water was passed around for us to have a little sip. Shortly after that, a piece of cloth was passed around. I’m not sure what was on it, but I was told to rub it all over myself. I obliged since I figured it couldn’t be anything that would hurt me since I’m not allergic to much of anything.
More time passed by and just as I was able to ignore the heat and sweat enough to think that I might reach spiritual enlightenment, my friend tells me that I have to leave the Igloo. I don’t know why I have to leave, but rather than disturb everyone else, I just head towards the door best I can. Outside, the lady who gave me juice is waiting for me. The change of light and temperature momentarily stunned me and I allowed myself to be led to a chair. Subconsciously I may have wondered why there was an outside chair inside but my main concern was sitting down before I passed out. I sat quietly, inspecting myself, wondering what the heck was all over me, when I realized that it was a kind of muddy clay that must have been on the cloth from earlier.
What happened next was inexplicable. The juice lady returned rather stealthily and without warning, proceeded to throw a rather large bucket of ice cold water on me. I’m pretty sure I screamed right before my heart stopped. I don’t know if you’ve ever had your body temperature raised to about 1000 degrees and then dropped to just under 30 degrees, but it isn’t pleasant. She didn’t speak English and my Spanish is poor at best so she just stood there and smiled at me like this was a normal procedure. I think it was after the stupified glazed look left my face, she felt it safe to usher me back into the Igloo.
I would imagine that we sat in the Igloo for about another half an hour before a mutual decision to leave. At that point, I was escorted into a place where I could shower. I received soap and a towel and instructions to clean up and then go into the room across the hall to relax but don’t dress. I was getting a massage. Awesome!
When your body is that hot, your muscles loosen up which makes the massage 800 times better. I passed out. It was wonderful. After I was all clean and relaxed, there was another bonus: lunch! You’ll have to understand that I loves me some Mexican cuisine. To this day, I don’t know what we had, but I do know that it was delicious.
We all (my friend, his mom, and the other folks that were in the Igloo) sat down at the table to eat. There was a lot of chatter at the table, but I wasn’t really listening as I was still in my massaged state. Slowly but surely, that jackhammer fired up again. As I tried to focus on making it go away and enjoying the scrumptiousness in front of me, my friend told me that the woman in charge wanted to know if I still had a headache. Now, I know that I probably looked a little rough when we came in, but I never mentioned, not even to him, that I had a headache. Naturally, I asked if he told her that and he said that he didn’t. So I asked how she knew. He said that she sees auras. Well, that’s pretty damn cool if you ask me. I told him that yes, my head was still exploding.
Our hostess was kind enough to come over and provide me with additional massage at this point. I’m a sucker for it, so I wasn’t going to complain. While this is happening, she’s chatting with my friend. Again, I’m not really listening because it’s in Spanish and it requires too much thinking for me to understand it. The next thing I know, she decided to crack my neck. Now, I DO NOT LIKE THIS. I don’t like when the chiropractor does it and I certainly didn’t appreciate it when she did it. The look on my face must have been classic because my friend immediately told me that he said to her that I would not like that. The best part is that there was so much tension or whatever built up in there, that when it did crack, it was so loud that all conversation at the table stopped. In retrospect, quite funny but then not so much. She tried to get the other side, but I was already on guard. She still managed to get me.
After all was said and done, we thanked our hostess and went back to the house. It was a tremendous experience and if you ever have the chance, I highly suggest it. 🙂