Sauna and a substitute for the forest

It was a free day on my calendar, so I decided to try out the new swimming pool at the gym. As a sauna-crazed Finn, naturally I was interested in seeing how the locals enjoy the sauna. After my workout in the gym, I headed to sauna. I was quite surprised to see a young women sitting in the sauna, fully clothed in her workout gear, including sneakers, and swiping away on her cell phone. Another young woman entered the sauna dressed in the same way and ear buds plugged in; she tossed her backpack onto the sauna bench. That’s when I started second guessing my choice to wear my swimsuit. The temperature in the sauna was around 70°C, so I was wondering how her electronics would survive the high humidity and heat. I looked around for a bucket and ladle, but instead I found a sign on the wall forbidding water to be thrown onto the heater because, the sign warned, water may cause a short-circuit in the electric heater.

I was about to leave when an older woman wearing a topless suit walks in and lays down on the top bench. One of the younger women removes her ear buds. I start up a conversation with her. I’m curious to know why she is wearing her workout clothes in the sauna. She says that she isn’t interested in working out at the gym: why bother when you can get sweaty and get the same benefits just by sitting in the sauna. And, she adds, she has promised her boyfriend that she would start going to the gym so, to keep him happy, she has to be all sweaty when she gets home. The older lady on the top bench starts snoring so loudly that I have to make my escape to the shower.

I miss the sauna and I miss forests, which are hard to find in Los Angeles. Instead of forest walks, I have resorted to walking up and down mountain slopes. Hiking is trendy here. A lot of famous people can be seen on certain slopes, so people hike in hopes of seeing them. Obviously, there are plenty of places to hike, and I’ve found great, peaceful trails high above Los Angeles. The views are amazing and the air is much fresher than in the city. And seeing the shoreline and the sun set into the sea make missing the forests just a bit easier to deal with.