For some reason, humiliation is less traumatizing while on vacation.
My guess is that once we’re home, embarrassing travel moments become great memories. Or maybe, we’re comforted by the thought that locals are more forgiving to tourists and their innocent mistakes.
My awkward travel moment took place in an establishment that I thought would provide a carefree day of relaxation. Instead, my relaxing massage quickly turned into a horrifying moment of embarrassment.
Aire de Sevilla Bath House
Sis and I started the day full of excitement. We looked forward to enjoying our very first massages, and I couldn’t wait to cross another activity off my super-long list of travel activities.
The Aire de Sevilla website had fantastically enticing photos and reviews, and we had mere hours before finally experiencing this Sevillian marvel.
The spa boasted Arabian-type baths with variable temperatures, a sauna, a rooftop pool, and refreshments to accompany the massage. We woke up bright and early, threw on clothes over our swimsuits, and drew a crude map for directions.
My Sevillian Misadventures
Half of my adventures in Seville, started with attempts to navigate those narrow, cobble-stoned roads and alleys surrounding our room at La Hosteria De Dona Lina. Our trip to the spa was no different.
Directions have never been my strong point. Unlike my brother who can travel to a place once and remember how to get back home, I can travel to a place dozens of times and still need to use GPS. And no, I’m not talking about long-distance travel. This directionally-challenged behavior includes places right in my own city!
So, as we set off on our journey, I was optimistic about finding the place, but not at all surprised when we got lost.
After we realized that we’d walked too far, we retraced our steps, corrected a wrong turn, and arrived at a modest looking entryway.
They say the best packages have plain wrapping (or maybe I just made that up), and this local gem was no different.
The doors opened to an impressive lobby with multiple floors and all the luxury the website had promised. We walked in giddy with excitement and ready to explore everything this spa had to offer.
Finally, after an hour of exploring, it was time for the main event – our massages.
Everything Started Off Great
The masseuses greeted us from a dimly lit room. The sound of trickling water echoed through the halls and the scents of tea tree and lavender tickled my nose. I took a few deep breaths of the soothing fragrances, eager to start what I expected to be a superb experience.
I removed my robe, lay on the cushioned massage table, and calmly awaited whatever would come next.
The massage started off great, as far as I knew since it was my first time.
I relished in the experience. I felt my muscles loosen and relax from my legs to my arms, and then up my spine. It wasn’t until she had made her way to the bottom of my neck that I had the nagging suspicion that my relaxing massage would take a harrowing turn.
The Massage of Horror
I’m a simple traveler. I can survive for weeks with a carry-on and I don’t mind hand-washing and re-wearing outfits. This low maintenance attitude applies to my travel hair too.
I have this curly, kinky, rebellious hair that takes time to coax into the style I want.
When I’m traveling, I’m often not interested in spending time in front of the mirror pulling and pinning together a style. So, I find alternate ‘dos that are easy to style and maintain for weeks at a time. On this trip, I’d decided to wear a wig. And this masseuse was about to discover my secret.
With enjoyment turned to dread, I felt her hands reach my neck and I cringed inwardly as they traveled up my scalp.
Her movements slowed as she attempted to decipher what was going on under what I’m sure she’d thought was my hair. I held my breath when her movements became hesitant, and I’m sure that those few moments erased all the work that she’d done to relax my muscles.
Thankfully, she gave up on my shifting scalp and ended the massage shortly afterward. I gave her a meek ‘thank you’ and quickly exited the room.
The Quickest Road to Humility
Embarrassment is the quickest road to humility and it is a well-paved path.
It’s impossible to live a lifetime and not do something that others find funny, inappropriate, or wrong. And this social disapproval causes all sort of inner turmoil.
If you feel like you want to press the rewind button after each embarrassing event, you’re not alone. We’re taught to care deeply about what other people think. At times, it’s good to use society as an accountability partner to make sure we stay on the path of a productive citizen. Other times, caring about others acts as a hindrance to being your best self.
It’s a tricky balance.
If we’re willing to stretch our comfort zones, travel offers endless ways to eat big slices of humble pie. And we should embrace every chance we get to laugh at ourselves.
Life should be lived fearlessly, and travel is a good way to practice doing so.
There are so many opportunities, dreams, and ideas that we never grab hold of. We allow them to die a pitiful death, unappreciated and unpursued. Why? Because we’re too afraid to have someone laugh at us?
The more often I fail, the more often I’m willing to go for what I want. I’ve become increasingly desensitized to the debilitating power fear.
That decrease in fear has led to an increase in confidence.
I’m sure that this won’t be the end of my travel embarrassments. As long as I travel and put myself in uncomfortable situations, I’ll have more times when I might want to bury my head in the sand. But I will fight that urge and laugh it off. And I will keep sharing these experiences with you.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you on your travels? BTW, you can hear more about my crazy travels if you get my personal travel notes.