This article originally appeared on VICE Greece
"It's like diving into chocolate mousse!" Mr. Yiannis calls out to me, from head to toe covered in mud. Only his eyes and eyelids are free from the therapeutic clay he's splashing around in. He's in the middle of a large pool filled with the stuff, joined by group of people of all ages who are lying on their backs in the thick mud, wading through it and plastering it all over their hair and face.
Every year, the Krinides mud baths near the Greek city of Kavala attract thousands of visitors who take a dip in the clay for its healing qualities. They mostly come to treat dermatological disorders, Anastasia Iosifidou, president of the organization that manages the baths, tells me.
She adds: "But people also take baths here to treat musculoskeletal disorders and rheumatic or cardiovascular diseases." There's a thermal hot spring near the mud baths, and a special machine mixes this water with the soil on the bottom of the baths and clay from nearby natural sources. That results in this soothing, healing, 27 degree Celsius chocolate mousse for people to float around in.
Visitors shower with thermal water before they dive in the mud—where they'll muck about for about half an hour. After coming out, they let the medicinal clay dry for a couple of minutes before completing the day's therapy session with another thermal spring shower. A visit costs $6 and comprehensive treatment lasts 15 to 20 days—depending on the doctor's orders.