For my birthday my Love Interest convinced me to skip work. She drove us up Collins Boulevard to a seemingly generic beachside hotel. In the bowels of the building was my birthday surprise, the Russian & Turkish Baths. You would not guess the ethnicity of this establishment to be anywhere from EurAsia as everyone working there was Cuban. After they told us to hand over our possessions to be placed in a safety deposit box (where they undoubtedly had them copied and forged for sale in Russia and Turkey) we were led into our respective gender’s locker room.
On the other side was a massive hot tub. We stepped into the water. Like most red-blooded Americans (and I imagine blue-blooded Russians and Turks), hot tubbing is one of my favorite hobbies. I was fine relaxing with my back against the jets until the cows came home. For variety’s sake you could even walk underneath a stream of hot water falling from the ceiling, but eventually we figured we should get out and see what else they had to offer.
The first room we encountered was the hose room. This had a table you could lie down on and an industrial sized hose, the type police used to restrain civil rights marchers. Insane water pressure would spout out of it ideally kneading the hard earned knots you might have stored in your back. Next door was the rain room. You could lie on the floor and manage the controls so hot or cold water could sprinkle from the ceiling onto your bare skin. Not all the way bare, mind you, the facilities were co-ed with all sorts of characters wandering around the corridor.
As we looked for which room to wander into next a heavily tattooed man with an eyepatch saw us looking at a steam room. “That’s the one to get into.” he said. “It will warm up your insides and knock all the toxins out of you.” We followed his advice, but I at least had trepidation. What if one of my eyes was a toxin? My vision is terrible, but I do enjoy the gift of depth perception.
This room was hot. Even hotter than the South Florida summer. My toxins were sweating out, but I think my assets were too. We were instructed upon leaving the room the best thing to do was to pour freezing cold water on ourselves. This seemed counterintuitive, but when in Russia or Turkey…
The other rooms were also filled with various levels of heat. One was called the amethyst room. It had large rocks of violet amethyst glued to a bench. There was a plaque on the wall describing the benefits of amethyst, but it was written in broken English and by the time I got to the third sentence my brain melted enough so all written language was broken.
At this time we took an intermission. There was a path to a secluded beach. Suddenly the humidity of the South Florida summer seemed mild and refreshing. After a quick dip in the ocean we jumped back into the various rooms of torture. We were slowly acclimatizing to the steam and extreme heat so that we could stay in the rooms for more than three minutes at a time. But still I didn’t think I could handle what was next offered to me. A man who worked at the establishment was dragging around a branch of some sort. “Forty dollars.” he said as he shook the branch. Beside the fact that I am allergic to spending money I can not handle another man doing anything to my flesh. I once went to get a massage and as I laid on the table I was shocked to learn the masseuse was a man. I felt more stress when I exited that room than when I entered it.
But on this birthday trip to the spa we left relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated. The heat did wonders to our psyches. But it was time to go. We got in our car, turned on the air conditioning and drove away.