Hamam in Morocco: ancient spa tradition

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It wasn’t the first time I tried out a hamam in Morocco. My first experience was a 4* spa in Marrakesh a few years back. Different times, different budgets. Now I was staying with Irena and Adil at the lovely Lunar Hostel in Tamraght, a village between Agadir and Taghazout. I was invited by Irena to come with her to a local hamam. Yes, yes, Irena and Irina went to the hamam…

Moroccan hamam

When we entered and got into the dressing room, there were of course lots of sneaky looks (both ways). Our white skin is considered exotic in Morocco, but otherwise we’re entirely the same. Two arms, two legs, ten fingers, ten toes, one bellybutton, one head.

We went to the last of three hot rooms, filled some buckets with water and rinsed the floor, because that’s where we would sit. We covered our bodies in black soap (tip: do NOT get it into your eye) and waited for the Moroccan ladies to come to give us a scrub. Now there are scrub gloves, such as from The Body Shop, and there are SCRUB gloves. I would dare to compare the ones we got in Morocco with 50-grit sandpaper. Also, the ladies who handle them know no pity. They are scrubbing you to the point you feel like either running away or hitting them back. When you see dead skin come off like rice grains, and the scrub ladies pointing at it and laughing, you feel like defending yourself – I DO have a shower every day!!

We got twisted and turned on the floor as each part of our body was scrubbed. Sofar I didn’t really have a problem. You know, I had a little bit of cleanliness OCD in the past but travelling for a year, no stress and generally feeling better in my own skin made it go away just like that. At a certain point we were face down on the floor as they were working on our back. Then it started becoming a bit more difficult: what to do. Having my forehead on the floor was not possible. Twisting my head sideways wasn’t possible either as they were working on my neck. Having my chin on the floor was painful but it was the only solution. Through the pressure on my neck I felt my lips get closer and closer to the floor…
They touched. I breathed through it. I didn’t die. Another boundary smashed.

The scrub was finished off with a vicious massage on my poor skin (at this point I think I was heaving an out-of-body experience). Then I got a few bucketfuls of water over my head, my hair was shampooed softly (I admit that was unexpected). It is so nice if somebody else does it for you… and then I got more buckets of water over me – nothing like an ice bucket though. And then it was finished. My body tingling, my skin soft, and red as a lobster’s. All I could think about was get some water NOW. Sitting in the car, we both gulped down a whole liter in one go. Towels still on our heads, we drove home. And got stopped by the police. But that’s a story for another time.

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