In a few weeks I’m heading back to Morocco. I’ve been once before and spent a wonderful three weeks travelling down the length of the country from Chefchaouen to Marrakech and out into the Sahara Desert. I remember being so thrilled by the colours and rich culture around me so I can’t wait to get back.
Whilst I was in Marrakech on my last visit I tried a Moroccan hammam. I didn’t exactly know what was involved, but I heard the word ‘spa’ bandied about and a nice relaxing afternoon after hours in the hot souks was just what the doctor ordered. Little did I know.
Here’s the story of my hammam hell…
I checked into a traditional hammam and on arrival was greeted by a rather scary-looking woman with an angry face who guided me lazily to the changing rooms. She handed me a bag containing a towel the size of my palm and the most enormous pair of paper knickers I have ever witnessed; the kind that even Bridget Jones would not be seen dead in. Pointedly, she insisted that I remove all my clothes and put them on. Due to my distinct lack of a grip on the Arabic language this whole charade was a series of grunting and pointing. It was one of those awkward situations where you don’t want to offend and so just sort of do as your told… in horror.
Maybe this wasn’t such a wonderful idea…
A few minutes later, I emerged stark bloody naked, in this pair or enormous paper pants that hid nothing. I was more than a little terrified by this ‘luxurious spa’ experience so far. The scary, grunting woman lead me into a round steam chamber, pointed at a pot of what I’m pretty sure was just brown jelly – used to lubricate hinges, that sort of thing – and demonstrated that I should smear it all over my body.
So there I sat, alone and completely nude plus enormous pants in gunk. All the while, I couldn’t help but feel another guest might be slightly alarmed to enter the chamber and be presented with a naked girl covered in jelly, wearing huge paper pants. After fifteen minutes of cringing about my situation and attempting to shield my bits from view, I believe I experienced a Moroccan form of torture. It consisted of the angry woman continuously refilling a bucket of ice cold water and then chucking – not pouring, chucking – it over my head and directly into my face.
I was sincerely wishing my ordeal to be over
Spluttering, I was finally directed to a bed covered in plastic. As I lay down I realised the wetness of my skin combined with the jelly-like lubricant it was covered in made it rather hard to stay on board! My skin was scrubbed until it was red raw whilst I slid about like a slug on a water slide. I just about made it out alive but it’s safe to say I wasn’t too enamoured by my ‘luxurious hammam’ experience! Refusing to be thwarted by this unfortunate incident, I’m determined to find a lovely spa and genuinely relaxing treatment on my upcoming trip. Ideally, one that doesn’t leave me running nakedly away from the masseuse at the end in my giant paper pants.