Friday, July 8, 2011


I had an outstanding day yesterday! As an end of the year celebration, 2 of the ladies in my PLC (professional learning community. It's like a support group for teachers) told me and Sandra to keep our day open and plan to go somewhere on July 7. They also told me to bring a swimsuit. I figured the surprise involved a pool in some way, but I couldn't have guessed what they had up their sleeves!

They picked me up and, after a few more stops, we headed to the Sheraton in a nearby city. I was led downstairs to the spa--I liked where this was going--and I figured I was getting surprised with a day of lounging by the hotel's ladies-only pool. As I signed the guest log, the receptionist said, "And would you like to lounge by the pool before your massage?"

I WAS GETTING A MASSAGE!!! I looked at my PLC teammate, the brains behind this little scheme, and immediately started crying. A day at the spa was exactly what I need after a school year like the one I had. I didn't know a spa like this existed in the area and I can't afford a massage at home. I was so grateful for the chance to just be pampered. I am so blessed to get to work with these ladies. My cup runneth over.

We decided to sit by the pool for a bit before our massage, but it wasn't quite what I expected. This spa is women-only, which makes sense given the culture. After I had changed into my swimsuit, I was led to the "aquaria." It had a small lap pool, a steam room, a sauna, an aroma heat room (where they burned herbs to create a cleansing mist), and a lacorium (I think that's what it was called) where you get to sit on heated lounge chairs and relax. Oh! And there was an ice grotto, which is exactly what it sounds like.

The funny part is this whole thing was inside. We were in the basement of the hotel. It was very odd to sit on cushioned pool loungers next to a really nice infinity pool, and look up to see a blue ceiling with little blinking LED lights simulating the night sky.

Only in Saudi Arabia.

Another thing that I thought was interesting was the Saudi ladies' swimwear. I'd like to think I wear a pretty conservative swim suit; it's a halter swim-dress two piece with a top that goes just over my hips. Very retro and it offers what I thought was maximum coverage in an age with string bikinis. It was very odd to find that I was the most scantily clad woman in the room! The Saudi ladies wore swim dresses, but under them they wore biker-short-esque swim pants that came down to the knee.

If that wasn't their suit of choice, they wore a bikni top (or a bra), a tank top, and board shorts. The latter outfit appeared to be the outfit of choice for the teen crowd.

I found this to be very interesting. These ladies were in a women-only pool. If a man was going to try to come into this spa, he was going to have to walk through three doors and get past the receptionist desk. And even then he'd have to find the right door to get to the pool. There was no way a man was going to walk by. So why were they dressing so conservatively here?

Maybe this is what they wear when they travel on vacation? Or are they so conservative that they feel the need to cover their bodies even in front of other women? I was perplexed.

But that didn't really matter all that much because I was so freaking relaxed after my massage! I vote I make it a tradition to end EVERY school year with a spa day!

Vicariously yours,

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