Today Wendy, my fellow yoga instructor, took me to the hammam as a birthday treat. And what treat it was! There are two places I get to interact with a lot of local women. First at the bakery and second at the Hammam.
Here in Morocco the women cover up almost entirely almost all the time. Each night as I walk home I pass by a bakery in a 10 by 10 room that is actually a garage. Out front, there sits anywhere from 6 to 10 Moroccan women. Each covered in her ornate and unique fabric. Some are covered so as to only show their eyes, but more common you can see their whole faces and necks and sometimes wrists too. Occasionally one will have her head wrap off to display her beautiful black locks, which have been laboriously combed. They all sit around talking and laughing and the owners beautiful little daughter is usually around as well. These women teach me bits of French and Arabic as I buy my almost daily (!) dose of sugar. They laugh at my attempts with their language which seems to originate deep in the throats, a place I have never accessed in myself.
The second place is the hammam, or public bath house. Here all bets are off and the local women really let their hair down. It is one of the few places Moroccan women can completely let go; and they do. They all sit together completely nude, washing one another and lying in the steam room, waiting for their turn to be scrubbed. They all talk and laugh and chat to one another (about what, I cannot tell, as it all sounds like an animated way to get hair out of your throat to me!).
As I sat in the steam room awaiting my scrub, I couldn't help but think that this was almost a type of womens club. The way that women are treated in this country or in the religion of Islam is not a topic I will begin to touch or describe, because being here has taught me how very little I actually know or understand about it. But it does seem that regardless of outside life, the hammam is the place for women to be. When it came my turn, I was motioned at the ly on the marble table in the large steam room and hold on tight to the bar at the top. Then my assigned scrubber (completely nude, mind you) put on the rough glove and began to scrub. Now you should know I have been tanning quite a bit out here and figured I would shed a lyer or two of skin. However, I think I lost two pounds of skin weight in about 10 minutes as I lay at the mercy of my new friend. Then she washed my hair, spread thick layer of some sort of mud mask and told me to ly down. As I looked around at the other tables and the other scrubbing sessions, I realized my treatment was quite normal and even desirable. The other women laughed and joked at the lift each others arms to scrub or rolled onto their sides for a better angle at the body. After my scrub, Wendy and I sat in the relaxation room and drank the famous Moroccan mint tea (lovingly termed Moroccan whiskey).
Happy birthday Kelsey, your skin is now smooth as a baby's bottom.