Santiago can be a stressful city with millions of people, car horns, screaming vendors and barking street dogs--noise is everywhere!
Photo by Sofia Carvajal
So what can you do if you need to relax? Pools can be crowded and you might find yourself shooing away annoying jotes (chileanism for men who see mating as a kind of competition). Parks are quite often small and generally won’t shut out the noise from the streets –-what’s more, it seems like every Chilean family decides to have a picnic or asado (barbecue) during the weekend so you’ll end up stumbling over dozens of small children running around.
A massage is a great opportunity to get away from it all. In some Metro stations such as Baquedano or at Shopping Malls like La Florida (Av. Vicuña Mackena 6100)
massaging chairs offer three minutes of vibration that ease your muscles and give you the feeling of a real human-performed massage. But still, with all those shoppers watching and the chair turning in an upright position just when you start getting comfortable, the end result will probably not be as relaxing as you would like.
Luckily, several clever entrepreneurs took notice of this problem and found a solution: small studios offering an assortment of massages. Massage Express, for example, has three stores filled white-dressed masseurs prepared to loosen hardened muscles.
There are different alternatives to choose from at Massage Express. The fastest (between 15 and 30 minutes) and cheapest (from CP$4,990 to $9,290, or US$10 to $18) massage is performed on a stool. Massages on a massage table are also available, lasting from 30 minutes up to an hour; these cost between CPP$9,900 and 16,000 (US$18 to $30).
Some people find reflexology (20 to 40 minutes,
CP$6,990 to 12,000, US$13 to $22) very helpful against illnesses.
A Hot Stone Massage (CP$18,000 to 25,000, US$34 to $47) is also available; it takes longer, lasting one hour or 90 minutes. You can combine a massage in the chair with reflexology for CP$12,000 to 16,000 (US$ 22 to $30); this combination lasts 40 to 60 minutes.
Except for the massage in a chair (masaje en silla) all massage appointments need to be scheduled ahead of time, but you may still walk in and ask whether they have a camilla (massage table) available.
Soft music along the lines of Norah Jones’ “Sunrise” gets you into the mood while you’re waiting for the next free chair or table. In the corner, a water fountain provides refreshment while ventilators help drive away the heat.
You can keep your clothes on for the massage on a chair, while the lying massages are given on a naked back.
But don’t reject those just because you feel uneasy; this space is carefully hidden behind thick curtains and the masseur will discreetly leave you alone while you undress and lie down on the padded table.
The journey into relaxation starts with oil that the masseur first dispenses on his hands and then on your skin. First, he (or she) will caress the whole back from the shoulders down to the region of your kidneys so that you can get used to this feeling. Depending on what your needs are--you’ll be asked ahead of time whether you have any special requests--you’ll receive some light strokes, a massage on your shoulders and upper arm, and as crowning closure a short massage on your scalp.
Allow yourself to stop thinking about your schedule, your boss, next week’s exams, annoying parents at home, and simply feel how the stress disappears as you sink down into a state of total well being.
At the end, the masseur will bring you a cup of water (if you want one) and give you some time to get dressed. While stepping out of the front door, you’ll feel like a complete new person, looking forward to the next visit and ready to once again confront the busyness of Santiago.
Moneda 973, Local 335, Centro
Phone (for reservations): 688-6615
Galería San Agustin, Centro
Phone (for reservations): 664-4012
Airport, Gates 12 and 19a