Editor's note- I think I take my surroundings for granted. What I mean by that is I think of my clients and the region I live in and I feel as though massage is becoming more popular and accepted by mainstream society. I even looked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found out that Massachusetts doesn’t do too bad. But what about other countries? Are there places that don’t receive massage as much as ours? At the last AMTA-MA Chapter meeting, I met a young massage therapist named Alex Furth who has a story about taking massage to another country. Here is his story:
Massage Abroad: My Trip to Honduras
By Alex Furth
The air was hot but dry. The daily hustle and bustle lived through the busy cars zipping down the street. Dust floated in curls over the road. I stood on the corner with my back facing the airport. With a backpack, a carry on bag and my massage chair, I took a big leap forward to meet the team.
I had volunteered to be part of a medical mission to Honduras. I was the first massage therapist to come on the mission, which had run for many years. I was a bit nervous as how it would play out, yet excited and aware that this would be a rich endeavor.
I caught up to the group across the street from the airport. We filed into a parking lot with an open gate. Two armed guards stood at attention at its entrance. We made conversation and got to know each other as the trip leader discerned who went in which car. The compound was about an hour drive from Tegucigalpa into the mountain. The rough roads winded and twisted as we entered the campsite. The village we went to was in the middle of nowhere. There was syphoned water, little electricity and the toilets didn’t flush with anything but a bucket of water.
The heat was at a solid 95 degrees as we pulled up to the gate. The compound was split into 4 places. Two served as dorm areas for the group. One served for medical care, and one was for meals. After getting acquainted with our rooms and greeting Sister, the owner of the compound, we hit the sack for a good nights rest.
The next day we got up I was a bit nervous how I would fair. Would I be able to hold up my end with these medical professionals? Would the culture of Honduras be open to accepting massage? Would I somehow misrepresent the culture of massage? These questions buzzed through my mind until my first client came to see me.
A nurse accompanied her and let me know of her shoulder and neck pain. I greeted her with the little Spanish I knew and asked her to sit down in the chair and relax. As she let go and I put my hands on her I knew that me being here was a good fit.
After her there were a few more clients with back and shoulder pain, all left with the same result a smile and a handshake. All seemed to like what I was doing with them and more importantly the impact that massage was making. One woman liked it so much she would bring me client after client. It was an important thing to see how big of an impact massage made for these people. They regarded me to the level of the medical professionals I was working with. Everyone had smiles on their faces and a look in their eyes that showed they greatly appreciated what it did for them.
All and all it was an amazing experience and I would not change it for anything. It opened my eyes to the importance and healing power of massage. It serves as a universal tool of doing a good thing for somebody in need. Through this trip I have learned that the impact of this profession and the truth that massage belongs in every community. Through love and care we can all make a difference with the power of touch. It was a great blessing I was able to give that to this community.
John Hughes is a licensed massage therapist on Cape Cod. He resides in Mashpee with his wife and three boys. In his spare time, he volunteers for AMTA and operates a property maintenance company.