Jurmala in winter has a wild wild West vibe to it.
Its’ streets are clean-swept, lined by colorful but lifeless homes of varying sizes. Skeletal trees loom tall eerily and the few people you meet, are either going in and out of stores, or making a bee-line for the row of exotic restaurants.
But,.there are no guns a-blazing..instead, a multitude of huge hotels nestled amidst trees; mostly spa-themed, and famous for being the past playgrounds of Soviet Union leaders like Leonid Brezhnev and Nikita Khrushchev. In more recent times, Jurmala still draws vacationers within the Baltic region, most of whom are said to be wealthy,..Russians.
There is something about Baltic Beach hotel that makes it impossible to ignore. It could be the fact that it has a dazzling array of 400 different spa treatments at unbelievably low prices; anything ranging from halo therapy or salt treatments, to algae, chocolate wraps or mud body-masking; the only heated sea pool in the Baltic states spanning twenty five meters or that it is located smack along the sea dunes of the Baltic Sea coast.
I’ve braved the cold and come all this way for fangotherapy. Fangotherapy or having mud treatment is a naked affair. You are armed with a white gown and slippers, then led through a corridor reminiscent of a hospital, minus the undertone of bleach in the air; to a cabin with a bed and shower. At some point in time you have to strip to your birth suit before the motherly looking Russian-Latvian ladies who have either seen enough scars, scrapes and sags that your inadequacies seem secondary to them; or they are just doing their their job the best way they can..humming, nodding and smiling over you as they apply smouldering hot mud on your feet, hands, legs and shoulders, then cocoon you in plastic wrapping and spread a thick blanket over you.
For thirty minutes, you bake slowly (not to the crisp though), and you feel beads of sweat rolling down your face, to which the masseuse applies a wet square towel and dabs off the moisture.
When you are done, she asks you to hop into the shower and rinse off the caked mud. Fangotherapy preserves heat which has a positive impact on blood circulation, detoxification, as well as relieving pains and injuries. You experience the benefit of having baby-soft smooth skin after this treatment, as the clay draws out the impurities hence supporting the natural exfoliation. You are grateful to have your gown back on. She smiles one more time and leads you to a room to have some tea.
As I sip the fruit tea and nibble on a piece of mango candy, I take in the environment. I reflect on the fact that places like the Baltic Beach hotel give a strong motivation for one to get rich or live trying; what with the rooms full of climbing vines, beautiful sculptures, plush leather seats and solicitous staff who please and pamper you.
I know I will be back.