Last night a woman came to our house and my Ibu – mama got a massage. The neighbor lady was here for three hours! And then they asked if I wanted one. I said, “Yes, that sounds wonderful.” So today when I got home from school, I laid down on a 4 inch thick mattress that was taken off one of the boarders beds and put on the floor in our living room and the sweetest neighbor woman who is a lot stronger than she looks had me lay face down with shorts and a shirt on and she started with my feet, then worked her way up.
I had asked my mom how much and she told me that the massage lady was a volunteer and I should pay what I want. I asked her to please come upstairs to my room and I took out all the money that I keep available, ($25) put it in a pile in front of her, she looked horrified and took $2.50 from the pile and put it in her pocket. I probably at this point should be able to explain my dilemma when I don’t understand things in their language, but it’s so much easier to actually force people to help you. $25 sure seemed reasonable to me for a 3 hour massage. My Ibu-mama put the $2.50 in an envelope and when the lady was finished that’s what she got.
And a side benefit was that for 3 hours my mind was totally off eating or drinking. And for 3 hours I could just lie in the middle of the living room and the two women could gab and gab and I didn’t feel like I needed to pay attention. A few times I figured out they were talking about me but I didn’t care. The massage lady started out really gentle but by the end I was right at the edge of what my body could take. I did wince once when she was pulling my toes.
I have a Peace Corps battle wound – my own Red Badge of Courage. A few weeks ago, most of a big toenail fell off. Actually it didn’t hurt, but it looks awesome and makes a great story. I went to Indonesia, got infected toenails and they fell off. I looked it up on the internet and “toenails falling off” is pretty common. At one point the massage lady was talking about how I was strong like a farmer and my host mother was telling her about how much I walk. The word for leg is also the same as the word for foot. They didn’t use the word that I know for toenails but maybe they were actually saying I have “farmer feet.”
I felt a little guilty. I am lots bigger than the average Indonesian, but my host mother was firm. $2.50 and not a penny more! That’s what my host mother paid her the night before and she showed up today, so maybe that actually is the going rate. I have no idea.