Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Search for Warmth

I got back to Cuzco after a trip down the Rio Apurímac today, no worse for wear except for a couple bug bites and being quite sore from three days of rafting. More on that later...

One thing I had forgotten in getting back into town after being in down almost in a jungle climate for a couple days is how hard it is to stay warm in this town. Cuzco is about two miles high, and it is the middle of Cuzco´s winter, so when the sun goes down the temperature drops quickly. I decided to walk around the Cuzco´s central square, the Plaza de Armas, waiting for one of the seemingly endless masseuses to stop me on the street so that I could get a nice massage. The massage would be nice, but to be honest I was more interested in potential supplementary services, like a jacuzzi or a sauna so I could restore some body heat...

Finding this combination ended up being a little harder than I expected. I passed up several potential masseuses (?) because they didn´t offer these secondary heat-providing services. Ultimately, I ended up agreeing to go to a place where they offered ¨Inca Massage,¨which apparently means that they do regular massage and then put hot stones on you for awhile. The hot stones sounded like just what I wanted.

The location of the massage ended up being, as far as I could tell, a massage spa + travel agency + private home. (Not unusual... other stores can sell you groceries, change money, book trips, and allow you to make international phone calls all in about a 12x12 room...) The woman who enlisted me in the massage got me to the building and asked her son through the door to turn off the television before letting me in. Afterwards, she led me upstairs -- above the travel agency -- to a sort of rickety second floor with three massage tables set up pretty close to one another. And this is where I realized that the place was disappointingly drafty.

The massage ended up being pretty good, but the hot stones were not hot enough, and as soon as it was over, I laid on the table for a couple minutes, trying to avoid the cold that awaited just outside of the towel, and then finally dressed as quickly as possible. I suppose I will have to try harder next time. The going rate for massages here is about $8 an hour, so why not? Maybe I won´t even wait until tomorrow...

Current location: Inside an Internet cafe in the San Blas district of Cuzco. They are playing a version of John Lennon´s 'Imagine' on Peruvian pan-pipes and I am wearing a scarf and hat.

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