Hey Mister, You Want A Massage?

Proceed with caution when picking a parlor

I love Cabo. That said, as a long timer, I’ve learned that there are a number of things down here that you just can’t take at face value.

For example, the ‘genuine’ Cuban cigars and silver bracelets offered by peddlers on the marina and along Medano Beach. They aren’t anything close to genuine.

The friendly neighborhood police officer might be nothing more than a uniformed two-bit crook looking for folks to shake down. And finally, the massages.

When I first moved here, I was thrilled to find that good quality massages could be had for a fraction of the cost back home. I became a weekly regular, alternating between two massage parlors. There was nothing fancy about the joints, but the professionalism and skill were on par with anything I had experienced back home.

Then I got educated.

On a day when both of my regular locations were booked solid, I ventured to a new place located nearby. Although it was a little more expensive and they wanted payment up front, I thought I’d give it a go. The manager led me into a darkened room and left while I got ready.

I noticed something was different right away. Normally, massage tables are covered with two sheets and, after stripping naked, the customer nestles between the sheets, positions their face into the little “donut” and awaits the masseuse.

This time, however, I felt a slight panic. Instead of a second sheet, there was only a small tea towel. Laying facedown and strategically placing the towel to cover my buttocks, I made a mental note to complain to the manager and advise her on how the competition operated.

The masseuse arrived with a knock and a “Listo?” as she entered the room. I closed my eyes and prepared for an hour of pampering. Then it went downhill.

Instead of the soothing sound of waterfalls and chirping birds, my ears were assaulted with the latest song from Justin Bieber. Although most massages start with a breathing exercise where the masseuse places her mint-scented hands close to your face, this one started with the massage oil being squirted on my back like a fat kid pours ketchup on French fries. After a couple of minutes of half-hearted squishes and rubs on my back, she moved to my legs.

She used the same oil squirting technique, but with a quick flip, she discarded the tea towel, leaving my arse fully exposed. Now, I’m no prude, but this… this was awkward. Visions of my wife and kids asking how the massage went flashed through my mind. How could I explain? After a couple of strokes on my leg, things got worse. Her fingers grazed my, um, private parts.

The first time, I thought, perhaps was an accident. The next time? That was too much.

I lifted my head in protest and it suddenly became clear what I’d got myself into. I was staring at a husky, middle-aged woman squeezed into a small set of tights, with her midriff spilling out over her pants in muffin-top fashion. She grinned, exposing a missing tooth. Before I could react, she asked in broken English, “Special service? Hunerd dolleres.”

With great embarrassment, I kicked her out of the room and my nightmare massage had ended in under five minutes. The Scottish in me forced a try for an unsuccessful attempt at a refund, followed by a hollow threat to go to the police. The manager just laughed. Lesson learned.

Massage parlors come and go in Cabo. Some are reputable, many are not. Massages in the downtown core are generally a cheap and satisfying experience, so long as you’ve picked the right location.

As a public service to our readers, I’ve compiled a list of things to look for, to help you identify between a professional massage therapist and a seedy “rub n’ tug” practitioner:

Price and Payment – Legitimate massages in downtown Cabo can be had for $20 to $25 USD. Payment is not requested up front. The phonies often request up to $60 and require payment in advance.

Uniforms – The professionals dress like professionals, often in white, hospital-type garb. The others dress in tights or jeans and often wear heavy makeup.

Promotion – If you’re accosted from across the street with cries of “Massage, massage… very good massage,” it’s likely anything but. The respectable joints will not try to verbally recruit you. And, if you watch closely, you’ll notice that these “masseuses” only call out to potential male customers. If you’re female, they just keep looking at their cell phones as you walk by.

The Tables – As mentioned, the tables should have two clean sheets – one to lay on and one to cover yourself with. A good masseuse will go over all areas, but can artfully arrange and rearrange the sheet to ensure only the area being treated is uncovered, leaving your modesty (and dignity) intact.

Soundtrack – The only music playing should be soft mood music. If they’re playing rock, rap, or traditional Mexican music, keep walking.

If you’re still a bit nervous about your ability to tell the legitimate massage parlors from the less savory ones, here are a few reputable places you can try:

Revive Body and Soul This parlor is located in Plaza Real, behind Cabo Blue on the main boulevard. $25 for one hour.

Destiny Spa Pacific This somewhat hidden studio can be found at the back of the same small plaza as the Monkey Cave bar, also on the main strip. $19.99 for 70 minutes.

Lolo’s Spa You can find this massage parlor behind Solomon’s Landing on the marina. $25 for 50 minutes. There is another one two doors down, but that is of the “other” variety, as our boss discovered when she got confused on the doors. Ask her about it, it’s an hysterical story.