The Shvitz in Iceland
Letters from Iceland (Monday, May 15)
Imagine you have a hot tub and you invite over a number of people you don’t know from different countries, say, Filipinos, Uzbeks, Germans, Armenians, and Americans, and invite them all in to the water at the same time. At the far end of your hot tub, you have two big vats — one is filled with a silica mud solution, the other with algae — and you encourage the Filipinos, Uzbeks, Germans, Armenians, and Americans you don’t know to simultaneously dig their hands into the vats and then liberally apply the solutions on their faces, chests, underarms, lower backs, inner thighs, wherever they wish, really, before suggesting they keep it on for ten minutes before rinsing off their faces and bodies and backs and underarms in the water in which they, you, and future guests will swim and dunk their heads.
“I don’t want to put any of that on,” said a woman, pointing to one of the large vats.
“You might as well,” said the silica docent. “What do you think you’re swimming in? The water is completely full of it.”
That, essentially, is the genius behind the world famous Blue Lagoon in Iceland (pictured above) — a large tub with large bodies, many of which you were lucky enough to see naked in the mandatory pre-shower, drunk-baby walking around in white and green face in knee-deep geothermal-heated water trying to find inner peace and chi.
It’s Lourdes Lite is what it is.
The sulphur smell, not unlike an EPA Superfund site yet to be cleaned, is just another part of the Je ne sais quoi of the place, as is the disturbing realization you are wading in Filipino, Uzbek, German, Armenian, and American shed dermis.
And it’s just $114 per person, but you do get a towel, pair of slippers, white robe, and two drinks — if you buy the premium package.
P.S. On the drive back to Reykyvik, still pulling dried conditioner out of my eyebrow and smelling like Bhopal, I said to Melissa, “It was okay today, really. See, I have to keep reminding myself: “We’re in fucking Iceland,” to which she replied (and this is just one of the 1182 reasons we love her), “Yes, and we’re fucking in Iceland, too.”