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 (all the while managing to look pissed off at my existence) while I peered nervously inside. It contained 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 object to.
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. I tried to insinuate that it might be quite nice to keep my bikini top on, but BOY did this fuck her off. Not wanting to offend, I slipped into the changing rooms and obliged.
A few minutes later, I emerged, stark bloody naked, in this pair or enormous paper pants that hid nothing. I looked like a grown up Rugrat. As the scary, grunting lady lead me down the corridor I decided I was more than a little terrified by this ‘luxurious spa’ experience so far. I was taken into a round steam chamber, directed toward a pot of what I’m pretty sure was just brown jelly (used to lubricate hinges, that sort of thing) and it was demonstrated that I should smear it all over my body.
So there I sat, alone and completely nude (plus enormous pants), covering myself 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 giant naked Rugrat 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.
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 eventually managed to extract myself from the situation claiming I needed the loo. A bystander would have watched a petit naked woman wearing a giant nappy running away from a fiercely pissed off Moroccan woman, Hammam scrubs still in her hands.
Worst part of it all? Bitch scrubbed off my tan.