The International Writers Magazine: Healthy Lifestyle
Arnoia Caldaria -
James takes his wife to the famous Spanish Health Spa and gets
more than he bargained for
done a great deal of things in my time. Travelled around the world,
practised dangerous sports, got married and produced a few offspring,
attended, late in life, a course in professional writing, yet curiously
enough, one pleasure I have never indulged in has been that of a visit
to a health clinic. I dont mean a hospital or a quacks office.
I refer to those where a group of beautiful people dressed
in Tai Kwondo outfits subject you to all kinds of tortures that are
intended to transform you into a cloned Schwanzenegger. Because of my
wifes ailment the doctor suggested a few days in one of these
joints. Naturally, I went along for the ride.
Galicia happens to be one of those parts of Spain that, contrary to
the beach and lager lout areas, has a great deal to offer in the form
of green and lush scenery, complete with mountains, and housing some
of the most beautiful rivers and natural springs in Europe. Most foreigners
relate this region to Santiago de Compostela, the famous XVI century
cathedral city. But if one travels a few miles south one will come across
villages with exotic names like Cuntis or Caldas de Reis with hidden
pleasures such as geysers and hot springs oozing recklessly out of the
ground that are captured and offered to the welcomed tourist. Turn east
and one will reach the Grand Hotel at Mondariz on the River Tea with
added extras such as golf and real free flowing mineral
water. Carry on south east and one comes across another group of rare
human cluster spots such as the Mediaeval town of Ribadavia, the only
known Jewish settlement in Galicia, or the Abbey of Caldaria some 15
miles away. Every place is gifted by nature with spas and other goodies
all eager to greet those adventurous and decrepit humans who wish to
leave behind the madding crowded cities, full of carbon monoxide and
the sound of 1000 decibels of urban machinery, in order to relax and
forget about the worlds ills.
We chose a place off the beaten track known as Arnoia
Caldaria, on the banks of the Miño, a river that ends up
flowing along the border between Spain and Portugal. Although the hotel
is barely 10 years old with all the modern facilities, the rest is pure
nature. I made the original booking through a local travel agent. Most
packages are also sold over the Internet, but being an untrustworthy
sod, I wasnt going to leave my credit card number floating around
the universe simply because my wife had to have her back scrubbed!
The brochure was full of added and incomprehensible treatments
that accompanied the normal hot baths that came with the deal. Anti-stress,
rheumatic recuperation, facial aesthetics, rehabilitation and dozens
of other unpronounceable technical terms that in my books all spelled
the same thing: recluse. Or so I thought! My wife and I put our names
down for one of the programs called Relax and beauty. Asked
what it was, the agent just said, youll find out!
Oh well! In for a penny in for a pound.
Apart from all the check in procedures, unpacking, having the first
argument with your spouse and all that, the immediate desire is to get
wet. Yes, I know! A great deal of you out there knows all about this
form of entertainment. The dos and donts before you even
dream of entering the oversize Jacuzzi, like being given what looked
like two squashed tampax that turned out to be a pair of pull
out flip flops and an oversized skull cap to cover
your head to make sure your Christian Dior shampoo left over didnt
infect the pool. Well I havent. It was all new to me.
My first step was to dive into the overheated pool to acclimatise my
body before the next set of ordeals. Cant do that,
says the pool supervisor. You must flow in gracefully! First
yellow card. I moved towards the side, gently, until I found them. I
let my aching back slide up and down the powerful underwater squirts
and forget that the dear Pope had passed away and that Monaco was without
a prince. Two hours of bliss and it was already lunchtime. Our paid
for meal consisted of typical Galician nosh; octopus as entree followed
by hot pot and pancake dessert swilled down with a bottle
of white Alvariño. A coffee, brandy and cigar as an aftermath
rounded off my first midday meal. An hours siesta and back down
to the water. Only this time it was Spa time.
Follow me, said a warden-like young Mae West. Sheepishly
I did. The next thing I knew was that I was set up against a wall, ordered
to take up a photographic pose and then fired upon by one of Shindlers
water hoses powerful enough to blow over a horse. After ten minutes
of purgatory I was laid down on what appeared to be an out patients
casualty stretcher with a hole in the middle. I wondered, for
head or other parts of the anatomy? From the ridiculous to the
sublime I began to be massaged into ecstatic bliss. I fell asleep. I
woke up in a bubble bath, stinking of sulphur. Tickles at first, thanks
to the multitude of minuscule jets, followed by a burst of mini tsunamis
under my bum. Twenty minutes later, I was back in my room, flat out
on bed waiting for the next session the following day.
This one was even bolder. Locked into a steam chamber I began to recall
The day of the Jackal when Edward Fox meets up with Jules
in a Turkish bath and later murders him. In and out with a cold shower
in between, I continued my so-called re-constitution treatment. The
best was yet to come. Ready for your peeling?
asked yet another strong built warden. Onto the torture
stretcher, eyes closed and an invisible hand began to sandpaper my body.
It felt great. After another twenty minutes, it was into the shower
to flush off my dead body cells. Back on the stretcher for a mud session.
Now this is really something else. Slowly and seductively a soft hand
began to smear me with goo. Once complete, I was wrapped up in what
seemed like plastic tinsel. Now I know what a Kentucky fried chicken
feels like, I thought. For twenty more minutes I laid out, motionless.
When I finally woke up, yet again, and told to shower, yet again, I
looked down at my body. It was a brownish grey. I looked like the
Creature from the Deep. By 9 oclock that evening I had had
And then they came!
The following morning, two busloads carrying dozens of handicapped human
beings of all shapes and sizes arrived at the establishment. They all
came to be treated as humanely as possible and to be offered a small
and beneficial comfort for their agonising ailments. If they had to
go through the ordeal that I did, then theyre better humans
than I am Gungha Din! God bless them!
I finally left this pseudo clinic with a different frame of mind. Human
frailty is above and beyond all the other problems in this wretched
and wicked world we live in. Visit Arnoia Caldaria and youll find
© James Skinner April 2005
James is a regular
writer for Hackwriters and the Honary Consul in Vigo Spain
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