Friday, December 5, 2008

Public Bath Experience III

I'm starting to feel like a professional hammamer now. I know where to go, I know what to do, and I have my own supplies. I've thought about going alone a few times, but I pretty much like going with Khadija.

It had only been six days since my last exfoliation, and I thought for sure that I had reached the "spaghetti-free zone" (referring to the appearance of the skin tendrils after having my body scraped down by one of the hammam employees). Unfortunately, an abundance of excess skin was still produced. I snuck a glance at Khadija as she was being exfoliated, and she had skin tendrils too. I decided it must be normal.

Observations from an (almost) hammam pro:

-the whole experience is significantly more relaxing when I know what is happening and what will happen next.
-the skin scraping process is still just as painful, but less shocking.

On our way out of the hot rooms and into the dressing area, we saw a white lady standing just outside the entrance. She was already undressed and was clutching her fists just underneath her chin with a scared look on her face. Khadija, being the insanely gracious woman that she is, asked, "Can I help you?"

The girl whimpered (in English), "I don't know what to do..." Khadija hooked her up with one of the hammam ladies, and we went on our way chuckling. In the changing area we found two French women who were also completely clueless. They had no idea what the hammam procedure was and hadn't even brought their own towels. Khadija came to the rescue again (she is fluent in French) and explained things to the women.

Can I just say, I was SO GLAD not to be them? My initial experience was shocking enough without having NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON.

If any of my gentle readers ever find themselves confronted with a hammam experience, allow me to offer the following advice:

-bring your own towel (you DO NOT want to have to use one that the hammam has on hand. Enough said).

-bring all of the things you normally bathe with. Shampoo, soap, shower gel, razor, etc.

-there will be a bunch of buckets near the entry to the hammam. Grab a few of them. You will fill them up with the hammam faucets and use them to bathe

-just walk in, sit down, and do what everyone else is doing. Everyone seems to have their own method of doing things, so you really can't be wrong.

-it will be extremely obvious that you are a foreigner, so the hammam ladies will surely come help you or at least keep you from doing something wrong.

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