Monday, December 04, 2006

Bathing in Crude Oil

I might have to create a new label for this post. Maybe "weird?" I'll give it some thought.

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Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times

He undresses, hangs his trousers and sweatshirt on a peg, pulls off socks and underwear and folds a wad of brown paper towels. He will need them later. Then he steps into a mess of what looks, smells and flows like used engine oil. “It’s wonderful,” he says, up to his neck in oil in a sort of human lube job.

The petroleum spas of Naftalan in central Azerbaijan, one of the little-known but once popular vacation spots of the Soviet Union, are making an unlikely return in a country so awash in oil these days that people are swimming in it.

Hello!? Anyone ever heard of carcinogens?

They and doctors here say it relieves joint pain, cures psoriasis, calms nerves and beautifies skin — never mind that Western experts say it may cause cancer.


Each bath uses about a barrel of crude, which is recycled into a communal tank for future bathers, given the cost of oil these days. Mr. Mirzeyev also uses paper towels to wipe bathers clean, a long, hard process that involves several showers.

I have a hunch this will never catch on in Santa Monica. Personally, I'll just stick with the occasional mud and clay bath.

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