Friday is the only day of the week that I’m not committed to doing something with or for someone else. It’s the one day a week that’s just for me and I truly love this day.
I decided to start off this latest Friday with a massage. I’ve been having a niggling problem in my right, lower back, and my Yoga and stretching hasn’t been able to get rid of it. I need one of those small balls folks use for this sort of thing. I don’t know where I can find sports equipment here but I thought I could probably find various balls at Shoprite — except they’re starting to put out all the cheap, Chinese crap masquerading as Christmas toys, so my search for small balls failed.
Back to the massage. I have LOTS of options for massages here. The high-end would be at the Baobab Tree Hotel & Spa, a 4-star hotel, with a spa like every other high end spa you find in the States. I LOVE their spa, and their prices, by u.s. standards, are quite reasonable, especially for a 4-star hotel (around 100,000 ariary, which is about $40 USD for a one-hour massage). The low end massage would consist of going to someone’s house, and laying down on a grass mat on the living room floor (where most of the family sleeps at night – in fact, you’re probably laying on someone’s bed right now), and a crazy old woman starts “massaging” you like she’s trying to puncture and/or rearrange your internal organs from the outside. Oh, man, this experience left me sore for DAYS, and the worst part of it wasn’t the IMMENSE pain (this old lady obviously hated my guts – literally – the way she was jamming her fingers down into my torso), it was that she laughed at me each time I yelled out in pain. See, the Malagasy are known for their stoicism, never audibly expressing pain, even during childbirth, so when this American woman showed up at this old woman’s home (highly recommended to me by a friend), and actually had the nerve to wince, cry out, and exhale loudly during my massage? Well, I’ll give her something to wince about!
After about 20 minutes, I couldn’t take anymore, and this was supposed to be the first of two one-hour massages that day. Needless to say, I never returned. So that’s the low end.
In between the very high and very low ends, we still have lots of options for a massage here. There are decent massage parlors designed to relax and pamper you, with dimmed lights, plushy decorations, comfy tables with lots of fresh towels, meditation music playing in the background – just like the kind of unique massage parlors in the u.s. My favorite massage parlor, Dety Body Nature, is one of these, located in Mahajanga Be (sounds like BAY).
Just last month, for my 64th birthday, my friend, Jemima (juh-MEE-muh), gifted me with a massage, so we met outside my favorite massage parlor, Dety, but like many businesses who close each day at 11:30 for siesta, on this particular day, they didn’t reopen. That’s yet another thing you have to get used to. In general, whenever I have banking or anything else important to do, I try to get there in the morning, because there’s a good chance they’ll reopen late in the afternoon – if at all.
When my parlor didn’t reopen, we went next door to Lilai, the place where I used to go, before I discovered Dety Body Nature. Lilai is where Frenchmen go to get happy endings. It’s that simple, and though I’d had massages there, months ago, the day Jemima and I went, it certainly had that sleazy feel to it. There was one too-small towel for the massage table, so I had to pull the towel up over the pillow (which had no case). It was not a great experience, contrasting this with a Facebook post I wrote in March 2020 about these two parlors, below.
Casual Quest #1: Mahajanga’s Massage Parlours — I continued this quest yesterday when, on a whim, I decided to go have another massage. The first salon I’d visited last week (Lilali Massage) was nice enough, cost me 20,000 Ariary (about $8 USD) but I decided to try a different one, just down the street from Lilali, named Dety Body Nature (odd name, I know). The moment I walked in, I noticed the difference between the two salons. This one, on the ground floor, looks, feels, smells, and sounds like a massage studio should, and though their price was 50% more (30,000 Ariary, which is about $10 USD), I splurged. The actual massage room (sorry I didn’t get a better picture) had dimmed wall sconces, and the massage table was padded with about 4” of foam, making for a VERY comfortable experience. My masseuse, Lala is her name, left the room while I undressed (yippee) and put on some relaxing meditation music. Okay. So this is starting of pretty good.
When she came back into my room, she started on my feet. My FEET!!! Do you have ANY idea how many years it’s been since someone massaged my feet? When I released an audible moan of utter delight, she chuckled because, as you know, the stoic Malagasy don’t express sounds of pleasure or pain in situations like this. My feet … oooohhhhhhhhhhhhhh yyyyeeeessssss. Don’t stop. Never. Ever. Stop. I have no idea who she is, but I’m in love with her, I tell you that. From there, my right calf, where she continued to work her magic, releasing every stress, every kink, using only her hands and forearm, no elbow. I hate it when masseuses use their elbows to dig into our flesh, trying to break a bone. It’s the lazy way to massage, in my opinion. May be quicker for them, but an elbow used in a massage means only two things: pain now, and pain later. Thankfully, my masseuse knew this and spared me pain. The left foot was even better than the right, if that’s possible, and I’m thinking, this feels so good, I never want to walk again, and spoil this groove. She worked magic all over my body, and when she asked if she could massage my face, I opted instead for a scalp massage, but this was out of her comfort zone. She didn’t really know what to do with my scalp, so after a few minutes, I asked her to spend the last bit of my massage — on my feet! I’m no fool. Oh. This place. Clean, well appointed, great location near Bazar Be (sounds like BAY), totally affordable, soothing atmosphere, and a phenomenal massage. I may have to rent a room there. At this rate, I may not bother to check out more massage parlours (they are quite plentiful, catering to the huge number of visitors Mahajanga gets all year long). On a 10-point scale, a solid 7.3. My room even had a shower stall, which is used for other procedures including body wraps and such. The lady sitting at the reception desk was my masseuse. I highly recommend this place. Phone 032-046-6780.