Monday, October 1, 2012

A Personal Hammam: From Phyllis in Morocco - Part 4

Phyllis writes:

The sketch above is of the room just outside the hammam and the massage room. All day long the fire was being fed with sticks from two great piles that had somehow arrived outside the door of Dar Louisa the day before. The fireplace is underneath the room for the hammam and opens onto the patio. Suzie and Kate were in the hammam while I was getting a full body massage. Suzie and Kate came out with exclamations of delight while I was on the massage table so I was pretty sure I was in for a treat. When my massage was done (ahhhhh) I went into a small room that you enter before going into the steam room, and Barbara and Fatima both chorused "come on in!". I walked up two steps, opened the swinging doors and found myself in a small room filled with steam with a bench at one end and two sinks in the floor on the other. Barb was sitting on the bench and Fatima was scrubbing Barb's arm. I sat beside Barb and waited my turn. The light in the room was very dim, the steam was thick but not suffocating, and everything and everyone looked beautiful as in a dream. 

The fire had been heating the water in the sinks and making the steam. The wood had a sweet fragrance. The scrubbing process was in several stages and I doubt I can get them right. Perhaps the first scrub with with argon soap....arms, legs, back and front. the second was while sitting on a short stool and was the exfoliation done with scrubber mitts and some other substance, then we were smeared with a special mud, and then finally another wash and rinse. Lots of throwing bowls of water over our bodies and our heads. I don't know why splashing with bowls of warm water is so pleasurable but it sure is. Lots of massaging as well as washing, lots of laughing and chatting. It was a most lovely experience. If anyone ever offers all means take it. The cost? 100 dirham (approximately $12.50.) 

After all the women had been thoroughly washed, scrubbed and oiled, Abdililah took Bill in and gave him his hammam. And THEN he served us a beautiful meal of turkey breast slices rolled around vegetables with a fresh tomato and cilantro sauce. Before this a pureed soup of vegetables (squash and sweet potato). For dessert we had a divine concoction of avocado, yogurt and honey pureed very smooth and topped with something like creme de menthe. Needless to say we all went to bed quite early totally relaxed and sated. We couldn't quit feeling ourselves because it felt like we had new skin. And so that, my dears, is the story of a personal hammam. It is customary in Morocco do do this once a week, either in a public or private setting.

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