Torturous travel can begin pleasurably, of course, as it did after I’d spent something close to six hours floating around in a scant bikini in Reykjavík's Blue Lagoon, emerging every once in a while from the delicious pool with warm water drizzling down my lean form in luscious rivulets to rehydrate with an ice-cold Gullfoss lager, only to slip right back inside the steamy natural hot spring that bubbles up from beneath a long-ago-cooled lava bed.
Since I already had serious jet lag after my flight from Los Angeles, a drive to the hotel proved to be absolute misery. It was night and Iceland is sparsely populated, which means there was no light. As I’d gone straight from the airport to the lagoon, I’d been awake for twenty-four hours.
Add this to the fact I’d been soaking in a hot tub the size of a small lake for the past six hours, during which I'd downed more than one chilled Icelandic brew. I've never had a more torturous time staying awake at the wheel. This was serious cartoon-toothpicks-under-the-eyelids-can’t-stay-awake time. Sleep coated me. I was drowning in it. I was oppressed by sleep and I'm lucky I made it back to the hotel at all.
The dungeon was located near Antoni Gaudi's Parc Güell. To get there, you descend a dank staircase into a cold dark basement located in the bowels of a high-rise apartment complex, which I was thankful for because it was August and sweltering at street-level. The dungeon was lorded over by a now retired dominatrix named Lady Montse. She was blond, blue-eyed and silicon-enhanced as well as an expert in the arts of degradation plus the languages of Catalan, Castilian Spanish and un poquito de inglés. That's where I came in.
Though I spoke Spanish fluently, Lady Montse wanted a native English-speaker to deal with all the British pervs who vacationed in Barcelona and made a side trip to the torture chamber. The dominatrix sent me off to purchase some latex and heels in a goth shop off the Ramblas before putting me to work. Each day, we'd meet in a nearby café at noon, scarf lentejas con chorizo, top it off with a café cortado, then get down to the business of putting the uncircumsized pricks of Jordi and Josep Maria back into their place. It was tough work. The guys sometimes smelled bad as Spaniards don't use deodorant like Americans do. Plus, you felt sorry for the poor bastards in the way they begged to have their backs stomped on by your stilettos or be whipped silly while they were tied over a spanking horse.
After a few months, I'd made enough money to quit the gig and live unemployed for a while, which meant I could spend my mornings tinkering away at whatever novel I was writing at the time, then enjoy my afternoons at the beach or in the pink-champagne bar near Barceloneta. My evenings were occupied with partying the way only Spaniards do, meaning my night usually didn't end till the sun came up again. All this ended when I parlayed my experience as a torture mistress into a job writing for Spanish Playboy.
Torture and travel - why can the things we love prove so painful? I was once told by an S & M master that people like torture because our pain and pleasure wires are twisted. Like star-crossed lovers, pain and pleasure make strange and lovely bedmates, as we kiss and defile one another through the bruised and sullied night till the sun rears her gorgeous face again.
Lara Sterling authors Twisted Vagabondage Tales for travelers who like it rough. She is prettier than Vagabonding author Rolf Potts (though Rolf is very pretty) and could kick his ass (though only if he'd like that). She has written for Playboy and Larry Flynt Publications but now hosts an online radio show and blogs at yourplotthickens.blogspot.com.