There is a spa in Zanzibar offering a traditional rose oil exfoliation for the week before a brides wedding.
The bride should return every day for 5days so that her skin will be smooth and supple on her wedding day. The bride will also have the aroma of rose on her skin, the aroma of love and romance.
I am not about to be married however the thought of a luxurious rose oil massage is too tempting to pass up.
Down a long narrow curly lane in Stonetown, the capital of Zanzibar, a small beauty spa has it’s business. The beauty spa is surrounded by numerous antiques shops cluttered with a myriad of brass dow sailing trinkets. Zanzibar is full of different smells especially around the busy food markets however these shops give of a distinct smell of age, dust that is not much younger than the trinket it is lying on and old wood.
The spa on the other hand can be found not by sight but by smell. Amongst the musty odour of the street suddenly the senses can discern a faint aroma of sandlewood that strengthens and is joined by the wafting scent of cloves as the small batik curtain covered doorway comes into view.
I duck my head to avoid hitting the low hung lintel and once inside the cool dark rooms of the spa I am given a batik sarong to change into and my hand is taken by strong long fingers. The woman smiles and pats my arm and suddenly I realize she is blind.
Lying on a stone massage table that is covered in a soft mattress the sense of smell is again on the explore as the scent of rose begins to fill the room. The table is firmly set in the middle of the room and sprinkled on the floor are fresh rose petals. The kettle, steaming in the corner is picked up by my blind massage therapist and although she is blind she pours just the right amount of water into a bowl to heat the mixture of rose oil and crushed seeds.
As I settle into the mattress the sarong is pulled down and a warm mixture of rose oil and crushed seeds is massaged over my skin in a way that seems to have been taught over the centuries. Smooth uninterrupted moves with the woman following a true pattern. Every now and then she reaches for the end of the fixed table to find her position and she moves with confidence around the room and the table.
It is not just the feel of the oil on my skin but the aroma of the rose from the soul of the plant that penetrates the senses as well
The warmed rose oil is true to its reputation as being the oil of love and romance. The feeling of being very feminine ( along with a beautiful polished skin) is undeniable.
All other aromas, the musty antique shops faded away as I thanked my blind massage lady and begin wafting my rose scented way back along the curly lane.