‘At 10.15 am we have availability for a 60 minute massage’.
‘That’s perfect. My kids start surf classes at 10 am. I like to book the massage at 10.15 am’.
After processing the credit card payment by phone and a long intermezzo about booking the family baths at the hot springs for tomorrow with the kids, no clay experience because this isn’t available for kids and kids can’t hang around the ‘family–bath-hot-springs’ without supervision.
‘Well all is done. Please make sure to arrive 30 minutes prior to your massage’.
‘Please make sure to arrive 30 minutes before the actual starting time of the massage’
‘That’s complicated. I will drop my kids at 10 am at the beach and then come to you’
‘If you are late it will reduce your massage time. Our massages are back to back’.
I just paid AUS$150 for a massage, the most expensive massage I ever booked, I think but I don’t say it.
‘You need to be 30 minutes early to fill out the necessary paperwork, get changed into a robe and make your way to the treatment rooms where you will be seated to wait untill you are being guided to your massage table’.
‘Could I maybe save some time by filling out the so called necessary paper work already tomorrow? Since I will be at your hot springs then with my kids. Small effort for me to drop by your reception shortly’.
‘Unfortunately, that’s not possible’.
Our conversation lasts the necessary amount of time it takes me to become familiar with the impossibilities of a luxurious life style. After I turn and shake my world a bit, my kids on Wednesday are going to be dropped off by me 45 min ahead of their surfing class at the milk bar. Where they will be picked up by the van of the East Coast Surf School. I like easy going people. So that Wednesday at 9.45 am sharp I enter the reception lounge of the spa area at the Hot Springs. The paperwork to be filled out consists of one A4 with seven questions about allergies, age and gender. By 9.50 am after having fulfilled my writing tasks, I am changed into my robe and escorted to the treatment rooms uphill.
‘Would you like some tea? This is Hester. The two of you will be treated in about 15 minutes. Please make yourself comfortable’. Hester takes up a magazine and asks me one or two questions about where I am from. She glances through the glossy while talking to me. She’s from Melbourne, aged around 60, a summer house at the peninsula and trusted with a remarkable memory about Amsterdam, my home town, which she visited in 1977. Walking arm in arm with her husband, he was being propositioned by a girl at one of the streets where girls find themselves inappropriately dressed standing and wiggling their hips in red illuminated windows.
‘Melbourne must have changed a lot over the past twenty years?’
‘Oh well, since I am living in it, I don’t see the change. Aside from the grafitti that has gotten way out of hand. A pity that the streetview has been contaminated in such a way’.
‘Really? Just recently there was this article in the NY times about the extrordinairy graffitti in Australia and New Zealand’.
Shortly after I decide to rest my case and silently wait for my massage saviour to come rescue me.
Helen is being collected. Another woman that meanwhile had come into the relax room, is being collected. Finally Leia comes rushing in, accidentally smashing the door close behind her while apologizing for being a bit sweaty: ‘the hill is steep you know’. I like Leia although I think her demeanour is not very professional. She explains me some things about the ingredients in the oil that she is using. I tell her my skin is not prone on heavy scented creams and oils, essential or not. Obviously she forgets about this soon enough. The amount of very cold oil splashed on my skin without being warmed by her hands first, is quite excessive. The temperature in the massage room already being cooler then comfortable, most probably due to the fact that Leia herself is a bit overheated and let’s the aircon cool her down. I decide I don’t want her to get in a bad mood and keep my mouth shut. Bite your lip Reina, and endure. The massage itself literally doesn’t make a big impression. I think there’s no chance at all to improve the experience. I decide once more to keep my mouth shut. Leia finishes and asks me to wait for her to return so she can let me out. I wait, realizing my cloths are in the dressing room down hill. I wonder why I am left to wait. I think of my children who must probably be towards the end of their surf class by now. After several long minutes I step out of the massage room. Planning to visit the toilet but discarting the idea when I see four women waiting in line for 1 single toilet. I want to make my way out of here as soon as possible. And then I almost bump into Leia again who is hurrying with a large pile of towels on her arms through the corridor. She manages to set me up with a small little double folded card that says: treatment plan, while I apologize myself as polite as possible under the pretext of kids waiting for me to be picked up. ‘Don’t wash the oil off’, Leia concludes insistingly. But I can’t wait to wash the excessive amounts of oil off. I’ve got trouble finding my way back down hill to the changing rooms, paths being restricted by ropes preventing a free through way so that the non-privileged can’t trespass the more exclusive parts of the premises. With some assistance I make my way down and quickly into a shower to shortly afterwards pass by the reception, where I wait, hesitating a moment, not knowing what to do with my locker-wrist band, the girls behind the reception all engaged in phone conversations. When I am just about to hurry on, I am being asked in a generous tone: ‘How was it mam, did you enjoy your massage this morning?’
At the end of the day I read in my treatment plan: ‘discount on products applies, next recommended treatment: Morrocan Cocoon’.