Saturday, July 26, 2008


I finally took time out of my busy schedule to visit the salt lake in Torrevieja this week. Just a short stroll from my studio, and visible from the top of the house. Down by the waters edge a crowd of mud people gathered like extras from a Star Wars movie. Everyone was caked in the stuff. Some with mud around their swollen joints, some from throat to gusset, while one lady of former Soviet states origin - going by the accent - had the novel idea to take all her clothes off, slap on a thick oozing organic bikini and proceeded to stand with her arm and legs flung to the four corners of the earth seemingly to offer an all encompassing bear hug to anyone walking within her grab range.

This was all very well until - a) she stood still until the mud dried and she tried to move, creating fissures between north and south that would have made the ‘Rift Valley Conservation Team’ proud, or - b) she waded wide legged into the water and the twin muddy peaks of Kilimanjaro slowly slid down her navel to join the now equally viscous map of Eurasia working its way towards her kneecaps. A sight imprinted on my memory forever.

If you have never been to the salt lake, I would recommend it thoroughly. Accessible through various holes in the fence around its perimeter, make your way to the waters edge, and make sure you have tie on shoes as they tend to float away otherwise. I don’t recommend trying to stand up on the salt crystals without them. Feels like walking on broken glass - I wonder is that where Annie Lennox got the idea for the song…..?

Anyway, back to the instructions - place a blow up air travel cushion around your neck, inflated of course, and slowly lie back in the water. The lake is so full of salt and minerals that you float without effort and can let the stresses and strains of the day disappear along with all the money you forgot to take out of your pockets before you got in. By all means take a book, but I-pods are not advised as you may inadvertently create a circuit between you, your batteries and the salts, and slowly fry your grey matter while listening to the mating calls of south Pacific whales. Who needs all this expensive, alternative dark tank therapy when you have everything right here on your doorstep? If you want the dark part just use the old blackout eye mask that probably came in the same package as the blow up air travel cushion. See? Easy peasy!

Word of warning though! Make sure you check wind direction before you lie down or you may end up at San Miguel de Salinas or, worse still, sucked up into one of the barges scraping the salt from the lake bed to send to those poor people in northern Europe to put on their roads in the winter. I didn’t check the wind direction of course, and ended up with a three kilometre hike back home with a deflated cushion round my neck, an eye patch skewed over one eye and an ear, a talcum powder coating of salt covering me from head to toe and strange but enticing looks from the girls on the roundabouts. Not recommended, but friends said my skin glowed beautifully for days afterwards.

The only downside to lake bathing? Shaving. If you have had a shave within twenty four hours of going in, by God you’ll know about it! It’s like dipping you head in a bucket of Fahrenheit aftershave. Your skin starts to turn the same colour as the water and feels like you have just applied a fresh lava facemask. It’s no wonder the flamingos are the shade they are!
God help ladies who depilate!

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