It wasn't a Swedish Massage,
and his name wasn't Sven. But the massage I had just an hour ago,
was quite an incredible experience � and it was done for 'green' (local
currency of Bytteringen i Aas, or Aas LETS).
Last night, after I related
my exhausting travel experiences to Alf (my LETS host in Aas, Norway),
he must've felt very sorry for me, because he promptly rang Atle,
the local LETS masseuse, and arranged for me to have a massage for
the following morning (this morning at 11am).
So I arrived at Alf's place
before 10.30am, so we'd have plenty of time to walk there. (Aas is
so small you can walk anywhere within half an hour or so.) I was well
rugged up with a roller neck skivvy under my jumper, and a jacket,
scarf and gloves, because it's so bloody cold in Norway, even though
we were still in the middle of autumn!
I'd opted to walk there
with Alf, rather than cycle, because I figured I could use the extra
exercise (I'm still trying to lose weight) and I'd appreciate the
massage more if I was a little tired. Well, I did get tired, but I
also got pretty hot and sticky. I hoped Atle wouldn't mind.
Once we arrived at our destination,
Alf did the introductions and promptly disappeared.
"You'll be able to find
your way back home, won't you?" he said just before leaving.
"Sure," I responded confidently,
trying to remember whether we'd turned right or left at the 14 intersections
we passed through on the way here.
Then for the next hour I
was exposed to an amazing massage experience, somewhat similar to
a spiritual ritual.
Atle is a typically tall
Norwegian guy, maybe in his 40's, with blonde hair and receding hairline.
Obviously the massaging keeps him looking strong and fit. But that's
not really the image I've retained of him.
Let me explain �
Atle asked if I'd ever had
a Polynesian massage. Of course, I hadn't. So immediately I sensed
that this would be different. He then led me downstairs to his massage
room and instructed me what to do.
"Take off all your clothes.
Then lay face down on the massage table, and cover yourself with this
towel. I'll be back in a few minutes."
In a matter of seconds,
he'd switched the CD player on, and was gone. I looked around the
room which was busily decorated with portraits of Polynesian kings,
wooden carvings and rocks, etc. And the music which was quietly penetrating
the room was of ocean waves and islanders playing in the sun. Soon
it was followed by tribal singing accompanied by soft, relaxing drum
beats. Very much a tribal atmosphere.
Almost like clockwork, as
soon as I'd covered my butt with the towel, Atle came back into the
room � in Polynesian attire! He was wearing a dark blue Singlet, a
sari and a blue headband. This guy is serious about his work, I thought.
And then relaxed for the next hour while he performed a truly professional
and relaxing massage.
The first thing I noticed
was the massage oil. It was hot! But not too hot. So when he applied
it to my body I felt a nice warm rush against my skin as he spread
it generously along the entire length of my back and arms.
But the sensation seemed
a bit unusual. Not like a massage applied by hand. As I was lying
face down, with my face in the hole of the massage table, I couldn't
see what he was doing. But I was soon able to work out that instead
of just using his hands, he was also using his wrists and forearms!
So when he was standing at the head of the table, his arms slid easily
from my shoulders all the way down to the small of my back in rhythmic
swoops, with constant pressure on my back as his whole forearm kept
contact on each swoop.
Then he moved to the other
end of the table massaged my feet, sing his forearms on my soles,
while preferring to use his thumbs on the balls of my feet. Then I
was challenged once again to figure out what he was doing. And I got
it. He'd bent my leg up and placed it on his shoulder. Then he massaged
my calf for a few strokes and followed though with long strokes up
my thighs and up to my back, in a motion which was like rowing a boat.
Leaning forward until my heel almost touched my back, then pulling
back again until he was upright again.
I'm sure he used some other
techniques as well, but they all went unnoticed by me. Except for
At one point he started
massaging my ears. Fair enough, I thought. But then he stuck his fingers
in my ears and firmly, but gently, lifted my head (almost) off the
massage table with his fingers. Then, after resting my head down again,
and with his fingers determined to stay put, he firmly, but gently,
pulled my head back along the massage table, held it there for a couple
of seconds, then released the pressure again.
I hope I haven't made this
part of the massage sound too painful. Because it wasn't in the least.
In fact, I was almost tempted to ask for seconds!
P.S. I found my way back
home in 12 minutes! It's hard to get this traveller lost!