DId you ever have a Moldovan massage?
No, it's not special in the way a Thai massage is special. It's just the details that are different but it never seizes to amaze me how different those details are.
I've had lots of massages in my life. I have a weak neck and ever since I was 18 and my brother whacked his leg cast on my head (it was an accident and he was terribly sorry), I've been having troubles with it. It's all not as stable as it should be, things move around, squeeze off nerves or blood vessels and then I have major, major headaches. Also very stiff shoulder muscles, muscle cramps, all that jazz. Not helping is that I'm constantly overstretching my neck since I'm blind in the right eye but I need to turn to the right side to see what's behind me when I backup the car. Like, right now, I have a burning pain in my right shoulder and I just now that things are out of whack again.
I used to get chiropractic treatments for my neck but I don't really want to do that in foreign places where traditions and medical procedures are surprisingly often just very different and the neck is such a sensitive area.
Ergo, massages. Those are reasonably safe and even if they don't do something for me, at least they feel nice.
Unless you go to Mamaia and get a massage at the Vega Hotel. There, they torture you. "I know it hurts", the massagist chirped cheerfully. "But I rather have my patients in pain on my table and without pain as soon as they go out the door than the other way around." I couldn't agree more. While it was excruciatingly painful at times ("Breathe, don't forget to breathe"), it was like the sun went up in my head. Oh, the clarity of thought! The brilliance of perception! I was a new person. Nobody could touch my back for days because the muscles were so sore but my head, it was wonderful.
I came back from the beach and asked around for a good massage therapist. On Tuesday, the lady came to my house with her table (extra payment for the taxi) and I submitted to her hands.
No, it was not like Mamaia.
It was also not like in Bali, or in Germany, or in the US, or on the cruise ship. It had several "firsts", and that's not an easy trick to pull on a massage veteran like me.
First, Moldovans have no patience for Western delicacies and think covering the massaged person is just piffle. In Germany, they don't cover you up for modesty reasons, they cover you up so that you don't get cold. In the US, I think they cover you for modesty and warmth. I mean, I've never been so wrapped up during a massage. Not saying it's bad, but it goes along with the fact that Americans prefer to go to the sauna all dressed. In Moldova, no such thing. "Get undressed", the lady told me in Romanian. I wasn't quite sure I understood. Everthing? Everything. Okay. I firmly left my undies on. I think she rolled her eyes a bit but I can't be quite sure.
I made to lie down on the table she had brought along. Upon which I put with my towel. She hadn't anything to cover the table - do people just lie down on the cold polyvinyl or does everybody have a handy towel? But when I lowered myself, she stopped me -- no, lie down face up first. Okay.... That was a bit awkward, even for me hardy German. I had just met this woman five minutes before, now I should just lie down, face and bits up? I was glad for my undies.
She started at the feet, which was all right. The legs, that was good, too. The belly.
The belly? I have never, ever, ever before had my belly massaged. I just googled it and it doesn't seem that unusual. But I had never had it before, so it took me a bit by surprise. I'm also ticklish... it wasn't unpleasant. No, it was somewhat unpleasant. But then I am good in telling myself it's like doing crunches only without the effort.
Then she massaged my breasts. I also googled that and apart from the fact that the word "sexual" pops up a lot in the search results, it doesn't seem that unusual, either. But I never had this done before, either! What a massage virgin I turned out to be. I am telling myself that my chest muscles can do with the action but I confess, I'm not sure what to think of it.
The rest was pretty straight forward. Yes, she also massaged my butt. Yeah, she needed to pull and rearrange a bit as she went along. Which was fine for me, really. Then she asked me, had I noticed I had cellulite? Um. Yes? Like, on my 16th birthday? Which didn't mean I needed to hear this from her in quite this blunt a manner. I mused upon this while she kept poking at my derriere, whether it was a good thing to be completely honest with a naked person you are touching all over, or whether a certain amount of discretion is more appropriate when you massage a women in her forties. I didn't come to a conclusion but I'm here to tell you that it didn't sting any less when she told me half an hour later at the door, she tought I was a hero for coping with those four kids, and that cellulite.
But heh. I felt better, so she's coming back, and I'm a little more experienced. Not at all a bad thing.