You know how sometimes you meet people and instantly feel like you’ve known them forever? Well that happened with the Wagoner family in Spain. Heidi, Alan and their kids, Lars and Anya, are from the US but have lived in Spain for the past 18 months. They have “carpe diem” stamped all over their foreheads. We liked them a lot.
We heard about the mud baths at Lo Pagan from Heidi and Alan, and we decided that no self-respecting family should miss the opportunity to be covered in black slime for the family photo album.
How to get there, how to put the mud on, and most importantly how to take it off, are ably and thoroughly covered in the Wagoners’ blog, which is a mine of information for would-be and actual family travellers. The link is at the bottom.
Why would you do it?
The Mar Menor (small sea) is the the biggest salt water lake in Europe. The healing power of the mud which lines the bottom of the shallow waters has been known about for centuries. The water is also very salty and heats up to a warm temperature in summer. Minerals such as potassium, sulphate and fluoride mix with the very fine sand, and the resulting mud is said to help arthritic conditions, rheumatism, skin conditions and is used as a beauty treatment.
The mud also gives your teenage offspring the opportunity to pretend to be Spider Man for the afternoon.
Where do you do it?
In Lo Pagan, find the old windmill at the top of the sandy beach. This is the starting point for the ‘mud-bath promenade’. On one side you have the sea and on the other the Mar Menor. The Mar Menor itself is very shallow, knee deep a long distance from shore and only 7 metres maximum.
There are wooden jetties to aid access to the gooiest mud, just out from the shore, which you can feel with your feet. The idea is to leave the mud on for at least an hour during which time it will dry and your skin will look a bit gorilla-like.
When should you do it?
We took a dip in the mud mid March. The water is still pretty cold and the summer heat hasn’t had time to warm the mud below the surface. But true to our Scottish roots we were prepared to go a little blue in pursuit of an all-over mudmask. There weren’t many fellow bathers around.
Low season also meant we could park our campervan close to the promenade and return to it to wash off the remaining muddy patches and remove the no-so-attractive sulphury smell.
How often should you do it?
Tradition has it that nine visits to the mud pools gives maximum benefit, but apparently you can settle for any odd number if you don’t have the time. We stuck with just the one. It was pretty cold even for us.
How much does it cost?
The therapeutic benefits have been known for centuries and it’s a popular attraction. Alternatively, you can indulge in a spa treatment at one of the retreats in town.
Heaps of useful information…