Hammaming with the locals, Marrakech

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Today I visited a traditional Moroccan public hammam. None of that take you by the hand, nurture your privacy & bow to westerner bullshit for me! I’m going to wash with the locals!

For the most authentic experience we went to the hammam the Moroccan lady in my hostel goes to. One of the members of staff took us to buy the mandatory black soap & exfoliating mitts then led us to the hammam. He kindly arranged a price so we weren’t charged tourist prices – Although I’m sure we still paid more than the locals.

For 70dirham I got to wait uneasily in a changing/clothes storeage area as a Moroccan lady shouted orders at us in what must have been Arabic. It certainly wasn’t english or French. Using the universal mode of sign language & accompanying noises we slowly managed to get by.

We disrobed & wrapped ourselves in towels & accompanied our panty wearing body washer into the steamy hamman. There were naked ladies everywhere, some still in their panty’s, some not. All busy & absorbed in their own cleaning ritual or helping to scrub each other.

We passed through 2 chambers of steam rooms & entered the third & hottest room. We were told to sit on the tile floor, but we didn’t understand so we stood like naked morons for a while. A fight broke out between 2 women, maybe over buckets, soap or the best spot to wash! Hammam turf wars!

Eventually we sat down on the tiles & our helper passed us buckets & a scoop to pour the hot water over our bodies. It was so warm & lovely! The helper then took the black soap & rubbed it all over my arms, body & legs. She poured water over the floor & pointed for me to lie face down. She quickly rubbed the black soap all over my back & legs then flipped me over & did my whole front. I was so warm & slippery on the tiles, it was oddly wonderful! She rinsed me off & did the same for my friend.

She came back to me with a black exfoliating mitt & I sat in front of her while she scrubbed layers of skin off my back. Amazing! She got me to lay down & did the same to my front & back. I felt like a baby being taken care of by it’s mother. So warm, soothed & comforted. Then she rinsed me, washed my hair & rinsed me again. It was so lovely. By now being naked didn’t even bother me. I felt so clean & free!

She took me into the next steam room & filled a bucket with slightly cooler warm water & we took turns at rinsing me down. Then we walked though the next steam room & outside the entrance she rinsed my feet.

Over! All too quickly! I wanted to steam, rinse & be washed & scrubbed for hours! I felt so relaxed & comforted from the heat & very clean & content. This is what I need when I’m hungover. I’m sure I have friends who would come & scrub me down. Form a queue people!

My first experience at a traditional moroccan public hamman has left me with one question – When can I have another one!?? Incredible!


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