Last night I experienced a true slice of Moroccan culture and managed to check off an item from my bucket list by going to a hammam. The Moroccan public bath, or hammam, is made up of three rooms, each one hotter and more humid than the one before, filled with water spouts, buckets, and lots of Moroccan woman scrubbing off the grime of the city. I knew I was in for quite the experience, but nothing could have prepared me for what was to come.
As soon as I walked in to the locker room to change, I just went with the flow and let the experience take over. I was lead by an attendant to the bath were she gestured me to sit down on the tiled floor and to begin putting a blackish-brown soap all over myself. A bath attendant then uses what is essentially a scratchy oven mit to take years of dead skin cells off of your body within minutes. The language barrier was comical as my attendant had to push me in order to get me to turn over or to lay down, but at the same time I was glad I could only really communicate with a smile or laugh. Each woman had her own small area to bathe in, but since it was so crowded there was not too much room for comfort between me and the woman next to me being scrubbed. I’m still not convinced of how sanitary the whole experience was, but I’m telling myself the hot water and hot tile was a saving grace! After getting scrubbed, my hair was washed and conditioned beyond belief, followed by a short body wash massage. Once I was all done my attendant doused me in buckets of water and that was it. Hammamed!
Standing outside after it was all over it was hard to believe what had actually just happened to us all as everything went by so quickly. We did what the attendant wanted, no questions asked, just got scrubbed and moved on! I am so glad that I got to experience such an important part of the Moroccan women’s social culture. The hammam definitely pushed my boundaries at first, but I was surprised by how comfortable I felt once I just let myself enjoy the situation and to absorb everything that was going on around me. I’m not sure if I would ever go to a hammam weekly, as many Moroccans do, but I hope to go again some day. When in Morocco – Hammam!