Never have I ever thought that I would stripped down naked in public hammam in the middle of Rabat ; the capital city of Morocco.
Yeap, naked in public hammam.
Alors, c’est quoi un Hammam ?
(Well, what is a Hammam?)
In short : Gender- Segregated Public Bath House.
It is an ancient traditional place where people take a warm bath. There are other similar bathhouses that exists in the world such as the Turkish bathhouse or Korean bathhouse ( 찜질방 ) . Each one of them has their own uniqueness.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have any photos taken when I went to the hammam. I left both my phone and camera at home as I was not sure if they had personal lockers.
So basically, locals here will come to hammam with their buckets, towels, shampoos and soap. A normal activity in their daily life to take a warm nice bath amongst friendly faces. Whilst some head there to take a bath, some would head there to spend the afternoon with their friends and have a chit-chat.
The world of Hammam
The Essentials : Basic stuff you need to have
Since it is a separated gender bathhouses, my two friends had each other and I found myself alone. With a heavy, confused, scared heart, I found myself walking towards the entrance. Damn girl, my foot was heavy.
The person at the counter was very kind to explain to me the basic things that I need to take a bath inside.
I was armed with a scrub/exfoliating mitten , a body soap and a black henna powder by the time I put my foot in the changing hall. Stood there for awhile trying to figure out what to do.
The Changing Hall : Time to get naked
A lady approached me. ” It is my first time doing hammam and I am legit lost as you can see from my face, ” I explained. To which she replied, ” Okay, go there, take off your clothes and once you’re done, give them to me to store it.”
“Everything?…. Naked?” I whispered.
“Yes, everything. You can keep your underwear if you want.”
Imagine where everyone in the hall is literally looking at you getting naked. A daunting moment indeed. The surrounding atmosphere suddenly became very unsettling.
Oh well, the next minute, I held my head up, walked towards the counter and dropped off my clothes.
On a side note : All the conversations that I had from the moment I step in the hammam was in french.
The Hammam : The next level bath experience
Another elderly woman came and walked me in. The room was filled with steam. It was divided into three sections. She left me alone in the second section for like more than 10 minutes.
I was clueless. In my head, I was telling myself that I was crazy. I looked around, observed on what was happening around me. Big buckets filled with warm water were on the floor. People chit chatting. Some are just chilling and taking their time to take a bath.
A moment later, a lady next to me who was with her daughter asked if I was okay. I assumed that my face must have looked really soul-less. She explained to me that it is normal and somebody will come back for me. In addition, she added if I wanted to bath by myself or have somebody to bath me. The second option will cost me about 50 dirhams. I opted for latter.
The scrubbing : Scrub scrub baby.
As she started to scrub my thick layer of skin, I felt as if she was skinning me alive. The mitten felt like a sandpaper. It was very rough, a very unusual feeling. As a first timer, it was a daunting experience.
She basically rubbed off all the dead skin all over the body. It will definitely feel very awkward by the time she get to your boobs or you know.. you get the idea. Don’t worry she knows her limits.
After while, it got better, and somehow it felt good. With countless of buckets of warm water being poured on you, your body will tend to relax. All the muscles will soften up slowly. You will feel like a baby being bathed by a mother, from top to bottom.
In these 30-40 minutes procedure, my skin felt soft and silky (I made it sound like I was in a factory, hehe). I was so overwhelmed to look at the amount of dead skin that she scrubbed off from my body.
Left me hanging there, asking myself if I had actually showered properly for the past 20 years of my life. Damn, we should have hammam everywhere in the world. It’s magical.
The after-hammam pleasure : Goodbye dreadful dead skin cells !
I was at the 7th heaven by the time she finished. That feeling. Unable to describe with words. Refreshing, new born, a brand new me. Madame شكراً جزيلاً .
Come out of the hammam and saw my two friends sitting, spaced out. They were still somewhere in the sky amongst the clouds.
Without a doubt, Hammam is one of activity you should consider while visiting Morocco. Definitely something to try. Worth every minute and every penny. Therefore, I recommend you to try it once in your lifetime.
Some of you might find it weird and it was enough for a one time experience.
Certainly not the case for me, I would totally and definitely go for it again !
Have you ever tried hammam before ? If yes, where and how was your experience? Let me know !
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