Pilates Retreat: Day 6 (Too Much Mud)

I am back at the hotel after a very interesting (my go-to adjective when something cannot be described by one word) day. I have had my 3rd shower and am pretty sure that any vestiges of mud are gone from my body. Which I can’t say for my swimsuit or clothes because bits of dried mud trailed them when I carried them from Point A to Point B, despite having slapped them silly against the balcony.

But I digress.

So, the day started with 7AM Pilates that went quite smoothly. Our instructor shortened class by 15 minutes to give us more time to fuel up for the day (which we took advantage of, stuffing ourselves again with the delicious breakfast bounty the hotel serves up) and pack for the trip. Given almost zero information about our itinerary, the latter was a bit of a crap shoot. What does one take to a mud bath? Mr. Bubbles? Rubber ducky? Power hose?

We were the last guests to arrive at the boat. There were probably 20 people, including us, but I think half of them were related to the captain, including the cook and skipper. The boat was roomy, though, with sun deck, front deck, tables, and a back area with large pillows and cushioned bench (which we claimed for most the trip) so we didn’t feel like a pack of sardines.

We headed out across the lake and guess what? The lake was a lot larger than it looked from the shoreline. In fact, it was so large that after an hour-and-a-half we ended up at the sea! The entire voyage was beautiful, the nature pristine, almost untouched by civilization. Just water, mountains, and expanses of water grass when we traversed the final, narrower waterway to the sea.  The only bit of commercialism we met on the way, near the sea, was a boat parked in the middle of the lake that was feeding turtles (tortoises? BIG) for all to see. I was a bit envious of the turtle because they were feeding it crab. Crab! Big enough to satisfy my palate. (I was getting hungry by this time.)

We spent 3 hours at the beach lounging, interrupting our reverie only for lunch on the boat (very good; the Pilates group ordered fish while the rest of the boat went for the meatballs…granted, Turks have recommended not eating fish in any month lacking an “R” but given that we were on a boat, fish seemed more suitable…time will tell if we’ll regret our decision, ahem).

After our beach break, finally we were off to the mud pits. Literally.

Forgive me for appearing precious about this, but I guess I envisioned something more civilized or orderly…a marble bath with civilized-looking mud…perhaps an applying of the mud by some mud specialist…or even spa-looking jars of mud from which one could daintily scoop and spread as needed. At least an official-looking entryway to the mud bath.

I was wrong.

The miraculous mud that is supposed to cure ailments from acne to PMS was unceremoniously presented via a pit (my mud-fuddled brain can’t come up with a disease for “Z” but, suffice it to say, the mud is advertised as a cure for pretty much any disease one could dread). Granted, the pit was not just some hole dug out. It was a rectangular hole, the shape being the only semblance of ‘orderly’. On top of the hole was gray water. There were steps leading into the gray water. Murky gray water that you can’t see through. To see what else might be lurking under that water besides miraculous mud. (After all, the pit is just there, under the open sky…I can’t imagine it is covered at night…what if a snake wants to treat his scaly skin?…what’s preventing him?)

Still, we didn’t come on the boat trip to chicken out. I tentatively stepped down to the uneven first step. Then gingerly stuck a foot down to feel if there was a second step. There was. And a third one. I will just say that (a) liability doesn’t appear to be a concern and (b) I am certain that many mud-goers have totally bought it and flipped ass-over-appetite on the lumpy, squishy, slimy, mud-covered steps (on the upside, they would get their money’s worth because, for all my bravado, I was not up to soaping my hair with the stuff).

Once I reached the bottom – if you could call it that – I tried to move across the pool but kept running into underwater mounds of mud (at least I hope that’s what they were). Gross. The squishy feeling of mud oozing up through my toes is exactly what I always tried to avoid when swimming in the lake we frequented as a child. And now I had paid good money for it.

Still, I picked up a handful of mud and started rubbing it all over, thinking ‘might as well get my money’s worth.’  My fellow Pilates-goers did the same. By the time we emerged, we resembled the scary swamp creatures from old horror movies. Or the Incredible Hulk. (And, yes, we took pictures that I will not be sharing…let’s just say it was hard to stand straight for the picture what with being doubled over in a fit of giggles.)

We sat in the sun until the mud was dried and cracking on our skins and then walked Frankenstein-style to the showers, spreading dirt confetti in our wake. During the rinsing process, we kept moving on to new showers to get away from the muddy lakes that had formed under us.

Finally, we were clean and ready for the stinky, mineral water. (As it turns out, it’s the magic waters that are stinky – like a sewer – not the magic mud.)

Or not.

I regret to say that we skipped that pleasure (it had taken so long for the caked-on mud to dry, we really didn’t have the time even if we had had the stomach for it…let’s just say I was exceedingly grateful for the boat’s punctualness).

As soon as we got on our sturdy ship, off it took. It seems like we were the only ones up for mimicking pigs rolling in slop. Which makes one wonder if the other boat guests – primarily Turks – knew something that we ignorant foreigners did not? (I am sure whoever thought of this set-up is laughing his/her you-know-what off, telling friends “Yeah, and I set up this mud pit, and foreigners pay for it…yeah, hardly any costs, I get the mud from the farm nearby plus whatever contributions from local wildlife…”)

Back home, after a slight detour to stop and let guests swim in the lake from the boat (we declined), we trudged back to the hotel, still scattering bits of mud behind us. I traded in my evening Pilates session for a glass of wine (or two) and a long shower (or two or three). Anyway, it had been a long day and 7pm – the time it was when we returned – was way past my exercise bedtime.

So, a lovely, humorous, as well as culturally rich (?) day was had by all…a day that I, for one, am (a) very glad I did and (b) will probably not do again anytime soon.

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