Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bathing in Oil


When I received my invitation to Azerbaijan, I did what most people would do and began doing internet searches.  One of the first things I saw when I switched over to a Google Image search was a picture of an older man in a bathtub of oil.  I remember thinking it was one of those obscure images which occasionally pop up in a Google search.  However, over the multiple months of living in Azerbaijan, this image continued to find its way into my life.  It is plastered on billboards throughout the country, has been the topic of conversation clubs and was even featured in an episode of The Amazing Race when the show came to Azerbaijan.

Naftalan, a city located about an hour from my host city, is best known for providing the oil for these baths.  It is believed that the natural minerals found in Naftalan’s oil hold curative properties.  The baths are recommended to patients with various medical conditions (e.g., joint pain, psoriasis and nervous conditions) and are also used in spa treatments.  I'll admit, every time I saw the advertisement, I shook my head with skepticism, but I also felt intrigued.

Recently, I went to visit a friend and student who lives in Naftalan.  I had continually promised him that I would visit and because he was leaving for the army, it would be my last opportunity to visit.  While busing into the city, there were approximately a dozen signs on my way from Mingachevir to Naftalan.  Later in the afternoon, I began to ask my friend about places which provided oil baths and their price range.  Asking this led to taking me to a location where I was swept into a store items were purchased (a towel, shampoo, shower slippers and soap).  It seemed, as a guest, this experience was one I would be having that very day.

Upon entering the room, you are asked to disrobe and enter into the bath room.  The woman with me was wonderfully kind and the entire location was extremely clean.  I was directed to step into the tub and to sit down. I sat.  Once I sat down, the xanim turned on the spout.  From the spout poured a brown mixture of, what I'm guessing, was oil and mud.  It was very warm.  It smelled only slightly like you would expect oil to smell.  She explained to me I would only be able to stay in for 10 minutes.  


Because the center doesn't receive many foreigners, the woman was very curious about my life.  About a minute into my bath, another woman who worked at the center joined us (it was a slow day) and together they asked me questions about America and my life.  


As I was sitting in the tub, I could feel my heart rate begin to increase.  I can't tell you what might be the reason for this, only that it happened.  The oil does contain chemicals and perhaps it's a combination of the heat and chemicals? Or that all your pores are covered in oil?  

After my ten minutes were complete, I stood up from the tub and the excess oil was scraped off with a shoehorn (no kidding).  Following the shoehorn scraping, I entered the shower, where I had help washing my back (and then left to my own devices).  It took a good 20 minutes to successfully wash off all the oil; for the rest of the day (and for a few days after) I smelled faintly like a car (but a fancy one).

I would recommend everyone try this out, if nothing else than for the experience!  Check out this video to get an idea of what it's like.

2 comments:

  1. girl that looks like more fun for two than one ;)

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  2. Hello Crystal, can you please tell me where exectly you take your bath and price if you remember ? :)

    Have a nice day!

    ReplyDelete