Friday, November 18, 2011

The Spa

The popping bubbles in my brain started to subside, as did a few seconds of mind numbness. Late night in a night club? No, this was the climax of my Port St. Johns Spa experience.

The white mud came first, which must cover the entire body. A short drive into the bush brought us to a small village and the mouth of a cave. To get the white mud one must strip down as far as comfortable and then walk into a damp dark cave and start mining the walls for a small ball of the precious mud. A full self application of the mud feels the skin starting to tighten. Then it's up a cliff using the roots of an enchanted looking tree to the bubbling sulfur pool for a second layer of black mud. First though we stop in front of a hole in the ground which has a long line of buckets waiting in front of it...waiting for the precious water within. We all get to take a sip before we jump into to sulfur pool. This is healing water but doesn't have the sweet taste one might expect from the fountain of youth...this is Fear Factor material. Yuck. Feel better??? I've never felt worse. After some black mud and scrambling down the tree, another hole confronts. No drinking from this one. "Release all your air, put your nose right here and inhale".... Tiiinnny bbuubbles...

The latter does as promised and clears yours sinuses . It's also supposed to help prevent arthritis. No mention of any possible brain cell depletion.

We all jumped back into the truck to go and have a nice salt rinse in the sea. Off to 2nd beach, which didn't necessarily mean the excitement was over.

Sharks typically kill about 6 people per year in the entire world. This beach has had 6 fatalities in the last 3 years. 4 lifeguards and 2 surfers. "But not to worry they only attack past the breakers".

If you are still reading, you should stop here if you don't want to hear the gory details. Here is a summary of my Q&A of a guy who was present for one of the past attacks.

It had been 8 weeks since the last attack when he(Jim) and 17 others decided to paddle out. Safety in numbers and enough time had past for some bravado to creep back in. A few hours later most had had enough and 4 were left. He had just finished riding a wave and saw that everyone on the beach were anxiously looking and pointing out to sea. One of remaining surfers had been attacked and was frantically paddling for the beach. Jim helped him in, but by the time they reached the beach he had bled to death. The shark had first grabbed his ankle then come back and bitten the top of his leg.

As scary as this is to hear this from a distance, one fact is probably scarier. These attacks are all by sharks that are only about 4 feet long. Sort of small. Not the apartment buildings made famous by Peter Benchley.

This is a gloomy story to end a day that started with a trail run among zebras and monkeys, followed by the adventure of a spa au naturale. But at the same time it's all part of life in a place called the Wild Coast. Drinks on the deck under the banana trees overlooking 2nd beach.

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