Hammam is something I always wanted to do – I went to the public baths in Budapest but that was not “the real one” so today was the day. Since some locals use hammams as their way of weekly hygiene and bathing (the only one), we really wanted to make sure we find one that is a little – hmm, how to say it – swanky? So we found a women-only spa and booked ourselves for noon today. The idea of hammam, simply put, is that someone else gives you a bath and scrubs you.
The spa looked clean and nice. Two women greeted us, we got a golden bucket with lots of little bottles and scrub to carry and were walked into the changing room. After a moment of confusion and stares as we wanted to put on our bathing suits (Lavinia in her typical Brazilian bikini, me close to a scuba suit compared to hers given I brought the most conservative bathing suit I have if we went to the beach in muslim country) – we were told that we should be naked. So much for showing off our fabulous bathing suits, instead we got thin paper thongs (as if that would make any difference), plastic shoes and some silk fabric to throw over ourselves. There was a lots of looks as to “what’s next, who will touch me, will someone throw a bucket of cold water on me unexpectedly?”. But at least we weren’t wondering around lost and naked like most of the tourist horror stories we heard. We were walked to a room with marble bench and a fountain in the middle where our attendant poured a bucket of luke warm water on us and asked us to sit. She then brought a bowl of suspicious looking black mixture and she rubbed it all over us. It turned out to be henna with eucalyptus and felt warm. We were sitting there for about 10 mins with hot steam coming out of everywhere and then were asked to move to a different room where they showered us off and asked us to lie down on something that I can only describe as a marble operating table. My attendant came and began to scrub me – two thoughts were going through my head. First, the last pieces of my Thailand tan is gone and it will take me another year to get color, given how fair I am. And second, if she asks me to turn around, I will slip from the table like a fish from aquarium and crack my head – it was so slippery! The scrubbing itself actually felt like a massage a little – even though it wasn’t the typical loofa from your bathroom – it was more the dishwashing scrub you’d use. I couldn’t believe how much dead skin came off – here I was thinking that I take shower everyday so how could anything come off – and the attendant proudly showed me all the skin (ha, those tourists think they are clean). Well, not such a proud moment for me – but was really happy we picked a nice spa as I wouldn’t want to see some of the more low key places. We then got rubbed with an exfoliator lotion and lay there for about 10 mins – I think we must have looked like dead bodies in a morgue, there was no pillow to speak off except this orange smiley face (see pictures). We then showered off, washed our hair and got walked into a nice resting room, with a beautiful robe, lemonade, water and lotion. We were the only people there so that made it really nice (and we could sneak in some pictures !). Overall, I would definitely do it regularly, felt refreshing and clean.
Funny how some businesses manage to do so well but then ruin it in the last minute, with the end to end experience though. When we were to pay, the leaflet says 275 dirhams – but no, as is common in Morocco, the price is always different. So it was 375 b/c somehow the 275 was for members but doesn’t say it – and when we asked for a cab to be called (this was in a middle of residential area), it was not possible, they couldn’t do it. Sigh….
We caught a cab and that by itself was an experience. First of all, the cabs here are Fiat Unos from the 80s and you hold on to your life, but not to the door because it is likely to fall off if you touch it. Second, they pick up various passengers on the way, so in the middle of our trip, the taxi driver stopped, a woman got in and we continued. We couldn’t figure out the payments, as he clearly gets paid 2x for the same trip – but wasn’t worth investigating.
We ended the afternoon at Cafe Hafa which had gorgeous views, don’t you think?