Thursday, March 1: This morning I arrive at the Bamboo Spa at Medinat Sultan Qaboos at 10 a.m. for a full morning of pampering. Last month, while my boys were still here, I stumbled upon this place while they slept in after a late evening at the Intercontinental. At that time, I made this appointment and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since.
The warm and friendly staff welcomes me with a cup of coffee and then I have my eyebrows plucked. I don’t want to have the threading done this time as I found it too painful; I do love to avoid pain whenever possible. They then lead me into a massage room where I’m given a robe & slippers and am told to lie face down on the massage table.
We start with a “Nourishing Aroma Honey Glow” body scrub (15 OMR), in the name of “purification and exfoliation.” Because of the dry air in Oman, this scrub feels cleansing and refreshing, as if a whole layer of dead, dry skin is scrubbed away and I am reborn with a fresh new layer of skin. For 45 minutes, the massage therapist, a kind and gentle Filipino named Mena scrubs and massages me, back and front, head to toe.
After this amazing scrub down, I’m told to take a shower, which I do, and then the 1 1/2 hour massage called “Holistic Lava Shells” (35 OMR) begins. There are some kinds of shells filled with a lava gel, heated up over a flame, and rubbed into my skin. Mena layers on a warm ginger oil, which she massages in expertly, and then she applies the hot, but not burning, lava gel. For almost an hour, she focuses on my back and shoulders, and it’s very soothing. However, most of this massage is done on my back, meaning that all this time I’m lying face down. After awhile this gets to be quite uncomfortable and I keep shifting about trying to take the pressure off my knees and hips.
After this I take a warm shower and wash off all the oil. They advise me before the treatment that I should go home and let the oil sit on my skin for a couple of hours before showering; however I tell them I’m here in Muscat for the entire day and I live in Nizwa. I won’t be going home so I must shower immediately after so I won’t be all greasy for the rest of the day.
After my shower, Mena then gives me a pedicure. When I sit down in the pedicure seat, I find a beautiful plate artistically arranged with orange and apple slices and a pink cupcake, a cup of coffee with sugar and a glass of water. Mena does my pedicure, polishing me off in pale pink.
It’s a lovely experience, lasting nearly 3 1/2 hours all told. Because I made my appointment well in advance, the owner of the spa, Mouza, offers me a special deal: the Nourishing Aroma Honey Glow body scrub is free. My total for all my treatments is 45 OMR.
By the time I leave, I’m ready to take a long nap, but alas, I have arranged to meet my colleague Vicki for lunch at a mall near the Opera House. We meet for a nice lunch of sushi and then I head to Muscat City Center for some shopping. I have three things on my list today: a pair of sunglasses, a black handbag, and a dress appropriate to wear to the Opera House next time I go. I come away with 2 out of the 3 items on my list; I’m left empty-handed on the dress.
After my shopping spree, I meet a friend, Alqam, who I met in the immigration line at the Jordan airport back in November. He is trying to get a business going here in Muscat. We share hibiscus tea and a date latte and double apple shisha at Kargeen; before long I’m scratching and scratching at my ankles, which are being eaten alive by mosquitoes. We have a lovely time talking and smoking, then, because my ankles and wrists are covered in mosquito bites, we head indoors to Trader Vic’s at the Intercontinental, where we have a couple of drinks and listen to some mellow Cuban singers. We take a lovely walk on the beach, where the sand is cool under our feet and the waves lap gently up on the shore. Sadly, I have to drive back to Nizwa, where I can barely keep my eyes open for the 1 1/2 hour drive.
A lovely day in Muscat:-)