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Linda-Marie Singer is The Live Wire

Linda-Marie Singer - Click to Enlarge

The Massage Therapist Meets the "Cruncher"

Click to Enlarge By Linda-Marie Singer

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The "Cruncher" getting ready. Photo by Linda-Marie Singer.  Click to Enlarge
The Massage Therapist Meets the "Cruncher" - Photo by Linda-Marie Singer
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: "You have an imbalance in your body," Rosario tells me as she pounds my lower back. "I can feel the tightness," she says, jabbing her elbow into my thigh. "Here, this should make it better, si?" Si!

Welcome to the Shanti Healing Center in downtown Puerto Vallarta located next to the Guadeloupe Church. As the sign says, it will be a healing experience, one that will carry over even when you return home.
With the church bells ringing softly, you'll be uplifted spiritually by the healing hands of owner Rosario Carrasco and her energetic staff. Bubbly and eager, Rosario offers a variety of therapeutic massages (chakra, acupressure, reflexology) that invigorate yet relax the mind and body. Each one is aimed at eliminating toxins while calming the nervous system. Prices average $40/session, and spa mavens especially will agree that it's surprisingly reasonable for such an emotional lift. 

After having visited a year ago, I was astonished when Rosario asked whether I was feeling any more lower back pain. "Are you still writing?" she wanted to know. When I told her I now suffered from sciatica, she wasted no time in marching me over to the nearby Centro Alphabiotico where her friend Isidro does the kind of alignment one expects after months of work with physical therapists. 

Rosario's special blend of healing massage - Photo by Linda-Marie Singer.  Click to Enlarge
Rosario's special blend of healing massage - Photo by Linda-Marie Singer.
One leg shorter.  That means an imbalance.  Photo by Linda-Marie Singer. - Click to Enlarge
One leg shorter. That means an imbalance. Photo by Linda-Marie Singer.
It was the usual steamy walk along Puerto Vallarta's cobblestone streets until we came to Isidro's modest office. I hopped on one of the massage tables and quickly he held my feet down. "Mira!" he said to Rosario and she came to take a look. "Isidro says you have an imbalance. One leg is shorter than the other and this is causing your sciatica." He nods. "So do you want to fix it?" she asks. Well, of course, but what was the price? Forty pesos. Roughly $4.00. Okay, I was game.

Slowly he manipulated my neck from side to side. I knew what was next - that typical cracking sound you hear when you're at the chiropractor's. Instead, he lifted my neck gently up and up and then crunched it. That's Crunch with a capital "C." I felt as though I now looked like E.T. Then the "Cruncher" did it again from the other side. "Bueno," he said. Rosario came over and studied my feet. "They're even now. No more sciatica."

My first reaction was, sure. Right. But then I walked around the Centro Alphabiotico and realized I had no pain or discomfort any longer. Isidro looked at me as if to say, "I told you so." Rosario shook her finger at me. "We need to visit once more before you leave. That way your body will believe that you weren't just playing. It'll be healed." 

So now you know my real reason for visiting Puerto Vallarta - a renewal of the body and soul. Conveniently they blend with the city's other amenities like the sun, water sports, good food, bargain prices, and manana-like pace.

But I bet whenever someone mentions the name Puerto Vallarta, it's with a sigh remembering the passion ignited by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton during the filming of "The Night of the Iguana" in the 1960s. The couple was so enchanted with the sleepy village that they snapped up prime real estate and vacationed there for more than a decade, just enough time to put the Mexican town on every tourist's map.

Today this trendy destination sizzles with life and laughter. The beaches are of golden sand bordering the calm waters of Banderas Bay, set against a backdrop of the Sierra Madres. You'll never get your fill from riding the dolphins, snorkeling at Las Marietas Islands, or ogling the loco artwork of Sergio Bustamante. 

And yet, Puerto Vallarta offers so much more. Namely, stress reduction. "I see tourists all the time carrying around so much tension," explains Rosario. "Their spirits are down and so we try to build them up and change some of these unhealthy habits. It's too bad people don't realize how stress effects the organs of your body. That's how you get out of balance." 

I'm lying down now listening to her as Hindu music plays softly and the bells from the Guadeloupe Church sound. I'm feeling sleepy and relaxed as she lights herbal scented candles and explains my next treatment - a lymph drainage to eliminate toxins and refresh the nervous system. "This massage will be muy…balancing. Muy…soothing. You won't forget it." I never do. 

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If You Go:

Massage Therapy: 

Shanti Healing Center
(next to the Guadeloupe Church) in downtown Puerto Vallarta
Independencia 231-7

Phone: 011-52-322-254-00

Centro Alphabiotico Puerto Vallarta
Leona Vicario No. 230
Phone: 011-322-203-35

Where to stay:

Westin Regina Hotel is located in the trendy Marina district near the airport.

Phone: 011-322-111-00 or 1-800-228-3000

Rates begin as low as $75.00/night. 

Cameron Tours offers two designer condos overlooking a private beach on the lush South Shore.

Phone: 800-648-4635

Special October rates are $75/night or $525/week.

For more information:

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Linda-Marie Singer "The LIVEWIRE" for Travel Watch. Former President of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association, and created the national writers conference, "The Days of Wine & Proses." She is a travel and entertainment reporter living in the San Francisco Bay Area. (More about this writer.)

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Last Revised: Friday, May 15, 2015 06:38:58 AM
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