Every day a group of us would do something right after classes at Amideast. Either it was going to the Madina (Rabat & Salé) or to the park. Our motto: when in Morocco use every time wisely. So as a group we decided to go to a Hammam Marassa. Let’s just say we had no idea what we were getting into. Erin and I are roommates here in Morocco, so our homestay mother, who we call Lala recommended us to go to a Hammam. A hammam is a steam room that people go to cleanse themselves. As it was a big group of people and we did want to experience it together, we decided to go to Hammam Marassa.
Shewit, Mahisha, Erin, Lily, Kelly and I all decided to go together with my Lala. As we got to the hammam we had to go to the nearest convenience store to purchase a kessa glove and black soap. Both are important parts of the Moroccan hammam experience, including shower hair products and body soap. As we entered everybody was naked, like I mean butt naked.
Growing up I was never comfortable with anything relative similar to what I saw that day. So you unquestionably can guess that this was going to be very different for me. Heading inside the Hammam made me completely uncomfortable, one; everyone was not clothed and two; I knew I had to be just like them in a few minutes. Before coming to the Hammam Marassa my Lala had warned me that this would happen and that it was normal. This experience has definitely changed my comfort level with one another.
Every minute that passed by certainly made me feel more uncomfortable. Usually, at a Moroccan Hammam you are given a choice to either scrub your own body or pay extra to have someone to do it for you. As this was our first time experiencing this, we decided to pay extra. As we entered the room, of course, everyone was naked and were insisting that we stripped as well. Right away I laughed and said no. All the women were persistent and my Lala had said that rude if we did not.
At this point, I definitely felt bad by unintentionally insulting these women but in order to have the full Moroccan experience I had to strip. As I started to everyone followed, and let me just say, this was undeniably the weirdest thing that happened that day. We all looked at each other and started to hysterically laugh at one another. Friends for only 3 weeks we never expected to do something like this. Little by little we started to get used to the idea that we couldn’t change what was happening. Kelly was the first one to crack a joke of course. At this point, I completely forgot that I was almost nude and more the fact that this was actually relaxing.
The women started to scrub every inch of my body, and I really mean every inch. I was completely red and that’s unusual for me. I can say that everyone in that room enjoyed their time at the Hammam. We all had our share of nerves and laughter. At the end of the scrub, I looked at the lady who had helped me, and I had told her “you are my mother, now that you have seen every inch of my body”. In response, she laughed at me and said: “of course”.
In the end, this experience was affordable and satisfying. I have decided that I would like to go to a Turkish Hammam as well. At first being naked and scrubbing dead skin off of you was completely a foreign concept to me until yesterday. But after yesterday, I have will certainly try this again. So unaware of the many traditions that Morocco has to offer, this one is absolutely something I would recommend to other tourists and friends. When in Morocco, go to a Hammam. I mean why not right?