A lesson in self-pampering

Posted: August 19, 2007 in Blog

When the 10 of us being sent to places all over Africa got together for a week of pre-departure training in Toronto one of the things we were told over and over was to not be afraid to pamper ourselves every now and then. That, and to recognize what creature comforts are important to us and seek them out if it will make the other, more challenging, aspects of life here a bit easier to manage.

I’m trying to chalk up what I did yesterday under that category.

Since arriving here I’ve been walking to and from work most days. It’s about 75 minutes each way, so it keeps me active. But I’ve really missed having a gym to go to like I did in Toronto. So I started keeping an eye out for something that would work. I found a few that were quite cheap, but not very good.

Then I found the club at Garden City. Garden City is a mall here that is straight out of North America. It has pizza, a movie theatre (currently playing The Simpsons movie, among other new releases) and, of course, karaoke glow-in-the-dark bowling. Walking through the mall, at least two-thirds of the people you see are Westerners. It’s jarring, considering there are times walking the streets here when you spot another Westerner and stare at each other with a baffled expression that says “What are you doing here?”

I popped into the club to see what their fitness area was like…. Wow. The cardio and weight rooms are completely open to the outdoors and look out over an 18-hole golf course. The rooftop outdoor pool also looks out over the golf course. They also have sauna and steam rooms, tennis and squash courts.

But my god was it ever expensive– more than twice what I paid for a gym membership in Toronto. Keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for things here to be a tenth of the price you’d expect to pay in North America.

As I stared at the cost of membership (“That’s a whole lot of zeros…”), that reminder we all heard during the pre-departure training kept running through my head. “Maybe this will be my little oasis to come to each day,” I thought.

So I bit the bullet, signed the sheet and went down to the bank machine to take out a wheelbarrow-load of shillings to pay the membership fee. And then I went in, worked-out while watching the golfers down below, went for a swim in the pool, had an hour-long massage and took a shower that had both good water pressure and hot water– the first time I’ve had both since I got here over a month ago. Feelings of guilt aside, it was glorious.

  1. stefanie says:

    Chris! Way to go with the pampering. I’m proud of ya! In Nunavut my pampering was a coffee pot that brewed only Starbucks beans; the full line of Aveda hair and face products; and lots of CDs.

    You look like you’re doing great…

    And hello, a 75 minute walk to work EACH WAY!? No wonder you look so good in the photos.

    Be well! Love & miss ya,

  2. cmason2 says:

    Oh thanks for reminding me, Stef. That’s the other creature comfort I have– the full line of Aveda hair and face products. There’s no such thing as too much exfoliating.

    *dry cough*

  3. Brandon says:

    Ha! I know the ‘what are you doing here’ look. Especially since most other expats here tend to have epic facial/head hair.

    It’s strange in those racially inverted places, they make me feel more uncomfortable than when I’m the only white guy.

  4. Jen says:

    Christopher, I am reading your blog at work (I mean….. I’m working hard and your blog popped up?), and it keeps making me laugh out loud. My office-mate is looking at me funny. Please stop being so hilarious! Also, speaking of creature comforts, is there anything you would like for your birthday? I figure packages may take awhile to get there, so I should start thinking now….

  5. cmason2 says:

    Oh Jen, I’m sending you a birthday-related e-mail right now. And don’t feel guilty about laughing– send your office-mate the link!

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