posted Wed, 10 Aug 2005
I have been sandpapered. But it felt great (mostly). Megan and I went to a hammam – a bathhouse – with her French teacher, Fatima. Remember that every Muslim town has five public buildings – the school, the mosque, the bakery, the fountain and the bathhouse.
So we went for our bath. It was a shock to see a bunch of almost nude women after seeing nothing but scarved and djellabed ones for so long. The book about Moroccan culture says you are supposed to keep your underpants on, but the little girls weren’t wearing any and some of the women had theirs off as well.
This is a very idealized version of a hammam. No one is wincing as she is being loofahed in a tender spot.
You can do your own bath or you can pay an attendant to scrub you. We decided to indulge and pay someone to scrub us.
First you strip, then you go into a steam room. You steam for a while, then you go into the next room. These rooms are all tiled with domed roofs. There are spigots coming out of the walls so the attendants can fill the buckets.
In the bath room, you sit while the attendant washes you with castile soap. This soap is more like a paste. We had seen piles of brown paste in the potions and spice sections of the souk, but could never figure out what it was. Now we knew – castile soap. This stuff is so pure you could eat it – just olive oil and lye. (In theory, that is.)
This is just the first wash, not the real wash. Then you get scrubbed – and I mean scrubbed – with a loofah. The dead skin comes off your body in ropes. It is nasty disgusting. I had no idea there was so much gunk on me. They should do a before and after weighing of someone sometime.
After a complete scrubdown – most of it didn’t hurt, the attendant throws buckets of water over you. Then you get your hair washed. The attendant washed Megan’s hair three times. I guess if you go to the bath only once a week, three shampooings might be appropriate.
Then she did the real soaping of Megan’s body, pulling her undies away from her body to get to strategic areas. She threw buckets of water over her, going from hot water to cold water. Then she did the same for me, only now I knew to expect the cold water because I had heard Megan’s gasps of surprise.
They bring your towels to you, you dry off and go home. Not bad for three dollars.
The end of the line
11 months ago