Several weeks ago, Krista, the team lead, pinged me on Skype. “Would you like to go to these baths while we’re in Granada?” Um, yeah.
And today we went. Ahhhhhhhh. A tall, slender, dark-haired Spanish woman showed us each room: cold, hot, steam, and medium (not hot, not cold). And the most important thing, “Silencio!”
We slipped into the medium pool first. She was correct, it wasn’t hot and it wasn’t cold. It was perfect for leaning back, lounging, and completely forgetting all cares in the world. After many minutes, I left the medium pool and entered the hot pool. After a few minutes, the heat was too intense, so I exited and poured myself a cup of mint tea, relaxing on a marble slab and sipping the sweet, minty liquid in the tiny plastic cup. I braved the cold pool for a matter of seconds, then headed back to the medium pool.
As I laid there, I drifted in and out of consciousness. I stared at the ceiling, rounded, with cutouts of stars shining down on me. I listened to the choruses of Arabic music softly coming through the speakers, taking me back to the time I spent in the Middle East, so many years ago. A faint spice smell filled the air – cinnamon? anise? – I never could place it. I stared at the columns rising from the pool of water, elegant rows of alabaster rising to the ceiling, reflections spread across the tranquil pool. I wished that cameras were allowed in the tranquil spot; I wanted to capture this serene image forever. Alas, they were not. Archways met my eye, cascading from the pool room where I was, to the showers, to the massage rooms.
A man massaged my back with rose oil and strong hands and arms, then escorted me back to the baths. I entered the steam room, breathing the damp steam in, relaxing on the marble benches. The steam was so thick, you couldn’t see anyone else in the room, you could only hear muffled whispers. It added to the mystique. Hearing, yet not seeing.
This routine continued – steam room, warm water, hot water, cold, repeat – for an hour an a half before the attendant rang the bell, informing us our session was done. We dressed and went outside into the chilly afternoon. No words were necessary to describe how relaxed and happy we were. We simply looked at each other, smiled, and said, “Ahhhhhhhhh” in unison.