Among the few creature comforts found in Bujumbura, Buja Day Spa hits the top mark. Walk in there a Saturday afternoon and you’re bound to get entertainment for your money.
The spa section consists of a quiet area where Eastern European hairy chested 40-year-old men stroll in their birthsuits (thankfully, a modesty towel wrapped around their hips) to the sound of Peruvian panpipes. No separation here; this is a gender- erm… -friendly place. For 20 US dollars an hour, you can sip green tea and choose between a Thai, Aromatherapy, Post-natal massage, a facial or a scrub given by Burundian or Ugandan women trained in Nairobi.
This is where I go every three weeks to get my eyebrows threaded by the lovely Félicité, during which we exchange reading tips on the next Ladies’ detective agency novel. Never heard of “threading”? This Asian technique consists of trapping unwanted hair with a cotton thread in order to remove it. Rapid, with no wax involved, and reduced levels of pain, it is simply fabulous. I can’t believe I lived for two years in the Asian quarter of London and never found out about it, but I am now officially an Asian beauty.
The hair dressing section is equally distracting with male staff straightening African hair while watching Nigerian soaps on TV. Except for a few daring Germans, I have yet to see a Westerner get their hair sorted there. Although I once witnessed a Russian woman complain that the end bits of her blond hair had turned green following an unfortunate shampoo.
Tucked in a corner is the pedicure/manicure section and where I have found my new heroes, two Congolese guys named Fabrice and Ricky. Ten bucks and 45 minutes later, my toes are clipped, scrubbed, massaged and polished while I sit on a massage chair and doze off. The polishing itself is a bit of an artwork and these guys never cease to amaze me by their creativity, as I hope you'll appreciate by the pictures above. And no, I won’t show you the threading photos because they don’t exist.