Thankfully, I may have found my mani-pedi person here in Lima. Just as I left Bogota, I found “my” mani-pedi person there. Then I went on the road and had to search all over again. When I got to Lima, I went to a salon that I had been to before. Sadly, I nearly got a new hole buffed on my nonexistent bunion (it would have been funny if no blood had been shed).
Now, I’ve found my person: Monica Corneja. Monica is a good advertisement for her business with nice long, healthy, painted nails.
60 Soles (60 Peruvian Suns = about 17 U.S. dollars) for a mani-pedi at your house. Monica only needs a bucket to soak your feet and a small stool/box/etc. to sit on while carving the bunions and coarse skin off your feet. She takes pride in her ability to feel the rough areas of your feet.
Monica doesn’t speak English (so it’s a good opportunity to practice Spanish). Her telephone/whatsapp number is 950-070-925.
At Masaje Miraflores you can feel good about feeling good. It’s a charity. The massage therapists are blind and this place was set up to give them training and a livelihood.
Masaje Miraflores is located at Avenida 2 de Mayo, No. 611. Telephone is 241-0555. Or 967746874. Their hours are Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The massages cost about 40 soles for an hour (or about $12).
It’s not fancy, the rooms are tiny, the operation is bare bones. If you want candles, soothing velvet bed linens, orchids, and discussions about your “well being” then this is not the place for you. But, if you want to get your muscles kneaded, and feel like good about feeling good, then this is the place.
Here’s my recommendation for a massage place in Arlington, Virginia. It’s called the Advanced Massage Center (AMC, like the movie theater). When I’m in the DC-area, this is where you can find me. An hour is literally 60 minutes and costs $105, no tipping allowed. The first visit is costs 75 minutes because you have 15 minutes of consultation beforehand. From then on it doesn’t matter which therapist you see because they all have access to the notes from the first visit. I recommend 90 minute massages after you know which therapist you like.
The center is located in the red Inova building next to the corner building on Fairfax drive and North Glebe Road. The address is 1005 N. Glebe Road, Suite 450
Arlington · VA 22201. Phone number is (703) 812-4810. Email is info@AdvancedMassage.Center. And you can schedule an appointment online on the contact page. They are very responsive and will email you a receipt. No exchange of dirty money to soil your zen mood when you leave. I even had one of the therapists call me when he was delayed in traffic! This place is by appointment only as they aren’t sitting around waiting for you to walk in. They just started offering services on Sundays too and I believe that they just hired a new therapist (who might be superman? Clark or Kent?).
One thing that this place is trying to do is make relaxation therapy and massage an essential part of daily life (just like you get your car tuned), so your body may need to be tuned every month. As Jaime said, when I asked him how he got into this field, he said that he had some relaxation sessions when he was at a youth leadership camp, and this made him realize that he wanted to pursue this.
I’ve had massages from Charlly (co-owner), Jaime (he is also a co-owner), and Suba (she also treats the DC United team). I recommend them all. Each is different. Here’s how.
Charlly: He talks through the massage and explains what he is doing and the technical terms for each part of the muscle. He makes sure that the table and pillows are adjusted just right.
Jaime: Doesn’t talk as much and he puts a hurtin’ on. That expression about “no pain, no gain” is truly what I gained from this massage.
Suba: She doesn’t talk much but her technique is different than the other two, but still on point.
An added bonus at AMC is that the offices are very clean and modern, plus the reception staff is super friendly.
This place is a world away from massage in other parts of the world. If you are in Bogota, you still have to contact Alvaro.
I’ll blog more about some of the relaxation therapy I’ve had later, including the best. The photo is a clue.
I’ll admit that I’m nuts for coconut water. When I see fresh coconut water being offered, I immediately develop a thirst. I’ve had them in Aruba, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Denmark, Singapore, El Salvador (where the photo is from), Virginia, and many other places.
In some cultures, the coconut is revered. In Sanskrit, the coconut is called the “kalpa vriksha” or “the tree that supplies all that is needed to live.” In WWII, coconut water (the clear liquid inside the coconut), was used as emergency blood plasma. Amazing!
There is sometimes some confusion with coconut water and coconut milk. The water is the clear stuff inside (which takes a coconut nine months to produce and nine seconds to drink) and coconut milk is made from water mixed with grated coconut meat. Hence the white color.
I think the best tasting ones I’ve had have been in Thailand at the airport. But maybe, it’s that when exhausted, getting rejuvenated with a fridge-cold coconut does the trick. Coconuts are restorative and have useful electrolytes which you need when exhausted or rundown. Like when jet-lagged. After all, castaways have survived on coconuts alone. Sometimes, a long flight can make you feel like you are adrift in an endless ocean of security checks and body odor.
The weather was hotter than the inside of a blister. Perfect time to go for a walk. So I went for a walk “in the jungle,” but really it was just on the outer perimeter of my lodge, in the Amazon. I was trying to be cool about the squidgy mud squelching up the side of my leather shoes, getting close to the bare skin of my ankles. I as trying to be cool. Then I got bitten by a spider. A zap of fire engulfed my ankle. I looked down. There was a tiny black dot on my ankle. Then it was gone. That’s how small it was. To my credit, I remained calm.
WHAT was I thinking?
There are times to remain calm. And then there aren’t. This wasn’t. Apparently.
This I found out when I casually told our guide that I had a bite. Never have I seen anyone move that fast. I didn’t even see him move. One minute he was across a pool of mud. The next right next to me! Then he took out a small plastic bottle and rubbed my ankle. This was the sap from the “blood tree” and it’s a magical potion. My ankle no longer hurt and there was no bite. I wish I had some of that Amazonian jungle blood with me now. Then I’d have the remedy to all bites. Will a company start selling this some day? Will all the secrets go the way of the dodo?
There are many “body shops” in Bogota. Not for cars but for people.
I’ve stood crossed leg in many a bathroom in Bogota (photo is from the U.S.), waiting for the lady in the stall as she frees herself of the “body” (pronounced “bow-dee”) so that she can relieve herself. These are also called “faja” (“fa-ha). Actually, some women wear more than one spanx-like corset: one for the waist, one for the bust, one for under the bust, one for the rear, one for the overall… and maybe there are more. Just as there are many ankle specialists (from the combination of platform shoes and rough sidewalks), there are also many “body” shops. The shops also have “body” for men.
Some women use these corsets to diet. If the corset is so tight that you can’t eat, well, then…
Her name is Reiko, she’s Japanese, and she speaks very good English. Plus, I have seen the hair that she colors and I would never have guessed that the hair was anything but natural.
She works independently out of the French hair dressing salon in Atlantis mall up on the third or fourth floor. She is the first hair dresser who knew instinctively how to cut my hair. For a simple hair cut the price was 70,000 (I think).
Very typical… as I’m on my way out of Bogota, I finally meet the best mani-pedi (and waxing, apparently) ladies in town. The word for nails in Spanish is “uñas” with an ñ but they understand “mani-pedi.”
The ladies make house calls and bring everything with them include a vast array of nail polish. They simply need access to warm water. The cost is 50,000 pesos (about $17) no tip required.
And then you get to relax and be pampered as they rub, scrub, scrape, massage, and polish your nails. Ah…
Some things are difficult to find in Bogota. Thai massage is one of them. The closest one gets is from Alvaro Silva. His phone number is 314-357-6656. Email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His massages are 90 minutes long and cost 150,000 pesos. (Massage therapists don’t usually receive tips, and some refuse, so that’s the set price.) Alvaro does Thai-, hot rock-, pressure point-, oil-, and Swedish massage. Plus, he also offers other wellness products like personal training sessions and exercise classes.
His massages are usually done on the floor on yoga mats (so he can pretzel your legs and arms) but he also uses a massage table if you have one. Only caveat with Alvaro is that he doesn’t speak English. It’s still easy to communicate with him and he can usually tell where you are in pain. Another thing that I like about him is that he doesn’t talk during the massage (unless you want to) and he doesn’t keep checking on how you like the session (I usually play music from a relaxation app on my phone so I tend to zone out and concentrate). Sometimes I wish that I had booked more than one massage because he’s spent the whole 90 minutes unknotting my back.
Most hotels have spas so one can get massages in fancy environments. I’ve only tried a few massage therapists and spas in Colombia. As this is Bogota, you can get the massage therapist to come to your house. The style of massage in Colombia seems to be mainly “Swedish.” I prefer pressure point and deep tissue. The other massages I’ve had here cost about half the price of Alvaro’s, but they were also only half as good. Most of the other massages involved lots of oil and Swedish style (light sweeping strokes). But, some people don’t agree with me and tell me that they get strong massages from other therapists (but each person has a different level of pressure that they like — one person’s pain is another person’s so-so).
My advice is to try them out and see which one you like.
There is an organic farmers market in Bogota. Every Sunday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. The address is Calle 69, 6-20, up from Carrera 7 (up the street from the gas station). The google location will show Impact Hub Bogota. The farmers market is located in the courtyard. From the street, you will see the white tents above the brick wall.
They have quinoa in multiple variations, and acai food stand (move aside ice cream!), other ready-made foods, vegetables, soaps, and organic cleaning products.
This place is small and hard to find. There are only about seven stalls. The market has been there every Sunday for three years. Many of the vendors supply some of the restaurants in Bogota.
“It’s mostly a flat walk and takes only three to four hours” said the manager at the eco-lodge. Beware words like those.
After paying a princely sum of 30 Bolivianos (it wasn’t the amount we found annoying but the constant milking as tourists — but, hey, that’s what we came for, right?), we took the ferry 30 minutes up to the north side of the island. At the north end of the Island of the Sun, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, is where there are several Inca sites (this is where the first two Inca rose out of the lake), including a sacrificial stone slab table, a stone maze, and other sites. More about that another time. We were taking the little “walk” along the ridge of the island. Three hours, he said.
The Island of the Sun is six miles (10 kms) long. It rises about 600 feet (200 meters) of which you feel EVERY step uphill. It’s like a slow stairmaster. With all the independent entrepreneurs asking us for five Bolivianos here and five Bolivianos there, it felt a bit like that tale of Billy Goat Gruff.
It was just after 11 a.m. when we got off the ferry at the hostel infested port. We stopped to have a glass of orange juice and take a photo of the lake. After paying the site entrance fee, we started our walk along a beach, up a path, past kids racing home for lunch, and past couples toiling away in their fields, harvesting rocks. The ladies look like a breed of bird with their round bowler hats and bright red skirts.
We continued to walk uphill for another hour. When we got to one of the Inca sites, we had a Swiss tourist take a photo of us. We admired the view, and I wished that the little hut was a toilet. As we shared the view, a local runner came bounding up the rocks with two white plastic bags in his hands. From one he extracted two styrofoam containers and Powerade drinks. He handed these to the Swiss couple. It was 12:30 p.m. and it was lunch time.
We left them and continued down the vista point to the other Inca ruins. The sun was baking the landscape a dun color but we didn’t feel warm because of the jerky-making wind that sandpapered the air around us.
At every ridge on top of the 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) mountain, we kept walking uphill. It seemed impossible that we could keep walking up. Around 3 p.m. and several “rock” t(r)olls later, the ground started to level out. As in, it stopped going uphill all the time. At this point, we had a tiny bit of water left and no food. I had some nuts in a bag and I was eating them every few steps, trying to keep the hungry wolves in my belly at bay (have a nut, you ravenous carnivore! It tastes like steak, no? It’s a Macadamia!).
By the time it was 4:30 p.m. and the sun was roasting the backs of my calves (instead of the front), we were resigned to making it all the way to the south side of the island without lunch.
Then, like a mirage, I saw my friend holding up a giant water bottle, glinting aloft in the sunlight like a trophy. We had arrived at Las Nubes, a hostel in the “clouds.”
Wide skirt and bowler hat firmly in place despite the knuckle freezing winds, the proprietress was manhandling a log for my friend to use as a stool over by the table with the view.
When I stumbled up to the shop window, I asked the lady if she had anything to eat. She said, “no, because when I do, no one comes.” Which I can believe because we had only run into about 10 other walkers, all European, hale, and lanky. In a red plastic basin on the floor, I noticed a giant gourd soaking, and as hungry as I was, I coveted it for a brief moment. But, I then focused back on what I could eat and drink. She had Pringles, Snickers, and Kitkats. I got a can of Pringles and two Snickers. It was a feast. When I got to the table with the view, my friend said that I could have shared her can of Pringles. To this I replied that I intended to eat all 2,500 calories of carbohydrates in MY can, by myself. I did give her a Snickers for dessert.
I asked the lady of Las Nubes for a photo and she was ready to take the photo but was surprised when I said that I wanted one with her. My Spanish only got me far enough to explain that we were happy she existed.
After the lunch of champions (electrolytes!) of sugar, salt, and fat, we still had another hour and a half to the village.
When we got to the village, I ordered four glasses of juice.
After eight hours getting whipped by the wind, my skin was super soft. Like I’d been at the spa.
I did it! 120 kilometers of Bogota’s Ciclovia. Okay, almost all of it. The city continues to change the map. So I did what I could on the 2015 map.
Sometimes, I’d get to a part that seemed like a simple “stay straight” and follow the signs. Not so. I would get to a part of the marked route, and then nothing. The route would simply end like an appendix (in the body; not in a book). No real purpose (why do we have one?) and no reason for it to end. I’d go down and suddenly it would end. Then I’d have to turn around and go back on the same route I’d just biked down.
Having now spent many days on Ciclovia, I have three wishes:
Provide opportunities for massages (along with the food stalls, bike repair stalls, brain exercise stalls, and entertainment pit stops)
Make the Ciclovia employees have maps or at least know where they are…
(okay, four) Make the roads connect!
My favorite parts have been down south. Much more to explore. Better prices.