As you probably saw from the pictures, our stay at Hotel Arbe was nothing short of amazing. A modernly designed 11-room hotel situated on a beautiful cliff overlooking the Cantabrian Sea, perfect in every way. They even have an onsite spa equipped with sauna and massage services that they proudly tell you about upon check-in. With chronic back problems, I so needed a massage from my 6+ hours of driving, so we signed up for back-to-back appointments the following morning. After breakfast the next morning, we checked in with the woman at the front desk and asked where we should go for our massages. In Spanish she told us to go back up to our room, take off our clothes, wrap our large bath towels around us, and use the elevator to the -1 floor (that's how they do things here... Basement is -1, ground floor is 0 and second floor is 1) to the massage therapy room. Brian would wait in the relaxation area in the heated lounge chairs, and I would be first up for my massage.
So we headed up to our room to derobe and get ready. Brian swore she said something about underwear, but she was talking really fast and I only got the gist of what she was saying. I convinced him that no, of course underwear were not needed. Come on, my sister is a massage therapist, and I've had plenty of massages. Nobody wears underwear. It's the job of the therapist to strategically tuck the blanket to make sure you're not hanging out anywhere you shouldn't. Hello.
We wrapped our naked bodies in our big white bath towels and giggled the whole way down the hall to the elevator; we felt like we were doing something forbidden traipsing around this hotel in nothing more than a towel. Once we got downstairs, we waited for a bit outside the room before the male massage therapist took us both into the treatment room to explain the massage. As he spoke, I translated each line for Brian. Basically it was an Ayurveda massage so the oil is what makes it so special. He would start with our heads, then our back, then front and finally the face. Afterward we had to sit in the sauna for 5-10 minutes to heat up the oil, open our pours and finalize the treatment. Got it! Sounded great!
Brian left the treatment room to wait in the heated lounge chairs until it was his turn and I obligingly sat on a little stool next to the massage table for stage one, the head massage. After he had soothingly rubbed my hair into a giant oily frizzy mess, he told me to take off the towel and get on the massage table face down.
Moment of truth.
I glanced around, saw no blanket, and began to get worried. The table was basically a padded, plastic-type number with paper over it, like what you find at the doctor, and kind of like what they wrap our bocadillos in at the sandwich shops here. I hesitated, faced the table, opened the towel at the front, looked back at the therapist, grimaced and said in Spanish, "So I just get on the table naked?"
His face turned bright red as he looked down between the now sagging towel and my bum. "No llevas ropa interior?" (You're not wearing underwear?!)
Horrified I wrapped the towel back around me. "No! Lo siento! Lo siento! No entendí....no entendí..." (I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't understand, I didn't understand.)
At this point, I'm completely mortified. I try to say that I can go get some from my hotel room, and he just keeps saying, "no pasa nada, no pasa nada." He tells me to get on the table and he'll get a "toallita" (a little towel) to cover me up.
So I heave my naked body up on the table, face down, my hair now in the shape of an exotic bird's nest I'm sure while this guy rummages around for a little towel. He grandly produces something no bigger than a washcloth and carefully and ceremoniously places it over my rump, which was bigger than the little towel obviously.
For the first half of the massage I can hardly relax. I keep thinking about this guy having to stare straight up my good girl as he's down massaging my feet and legs. He keeps doing this kneading/shaking technique that of course causes my butt to jiggle from side to side which of course causes this tiny scrap of terrycloth to fall off to either side. He must have repositioned that damn towel 10 times. By this point my dignity is completely out the window and I'm ready for him to just scrap the towel and give me a good butt massage.
Just when I'm getting used to the draft and have found the humor in the situation, he places a hand gently on my shoulder and very serenely tells me to dar la vuelta...turn over...for the next part of the massage. I had been so preoccupied with my baby-making equipment hanging out that it hadn't even dawned on me that now a whole new kink was thrown into this parade. Um, boobs anyone?
So he grabs the little towel off my bum, and holds it unassumingly while I turn over, now sunny side up. Once I am settled, he hangs the little wash cloth over my vag, waves it a few times back and forth and then carefully floats it over my goods. I cannot help but smile, stifle a laugh in my throat and then quickly try to make a very serious, this-isn't-funny face. I definitely would not consider myself modest, but this is just too much. All the while I'm laying there trying to count the number of years it's been since any man besides Brian has seen me naked.
To further add to the hilarity now known as my naked massage, it turns out Ayurveda massage it all about getting you really oily. Like really, REALLY oily. So not only am I completely naked in front of this man, but he is strategically lubing up my entire body, carefully avoiding my large exposed breasts. But of course, I did mention they're kind of large, so he's not having much luck at avoiding them 100% of the time as he makes the broad sweeping figure-8 strokes across my tummy, up my chest bone, across my shoulder and back down my tummy. With every accidental nipple nudge with his wrist, I laugh a little in the back of my throat, that deep, grunt-like sound, and I'm sure he probably thought there was something seriously wrong with me.
At this point, it's just funny. I have lost all concern for his level of embarrassment or mine and have decided I need to salvage and enjoy the last 15 minutes of this very, very unique experience. So when he makes his way down the front of my legs with those same gyrating moves, I already know the little towel is going to fall off. I am prepared for the 7 towel replacements and I smirk knowingly with each one. What I am not prepared for is when he puts one hand under my knee, another under my ankle and bends my leg so that my foot is now flat on the table. There is not a little towel in production that can cover the many intricate angles from which one can plainly see your most private parts with a leg in the air and another on a table. So be it. Me and this guy are now officially friends I think.
He finally, finally, finally finishes and hands me my large towel to wrap around my naked, dripping-with-oil body. I thank him as I wonder to myself if I should leave a bigger tip or if he should be tipping me. I laugh all the way to the room with the sauna and the heated lounge chairs wondering how I am going to explain this to Brian. I instead decide to save this juicy little story for later and throw the guy a bone. I open the door to the room and as he asks how it went, I look straight into his eyes and very sternly say...
"Go STRAIGHT up to the room RIGHT NOW and put on some underwear!"