Maybe I jumped the gun on this one, but I was really curious about doing the Hammam on my girls only trip to Morocco. This curiosity stemmed from my desire to experience the culture in the countries that I travel to. The Hammam is similar to a Turkish bath where you are in a sauna like room while someone bathes you. As part of Moroccan culture, locals routinely go to the Hammam as a cleansing ritual. I am not sure how or where I first learned about the Hammam but what I did research on was not enough for me to fully grasp the experience. Here's why:
The Videos Won't Help
Here was my first mistake when looking up the procedure of the Hammams- I watched YouTube videos of the top locations for Hammams in Marrakech. (Newbie move, I know). Of course the promotional videos won't show everything that occurs during the Hammam. I'm not sure why I would have thought otherwise. The videos show either a man or a woman being bathed but they are wearing a piece of clothing to cover their private areas.
After watching these videos of the Hammams I thought to myself "booking this spa day asap"! My girlfriends agreed and we reserved a day for a Hammam Berber with Henna and a facial massage. Sounds interesting enough, huh?
Forget the Bathing Suit
When we booked the reservation at the Hammam, they mentioned that we didn't need to bring anything with us. They would provide us with towels, bathrobes, and slippers. Of course, we all made the assumption that we would have to bring a bathing suit even though it wasn't even needed.
We were greeted delightedly for our appointment and were assured that we would have a memorable experience. We were then escorted into a changing room together. The woman gave us bathrobes, slippers, towels, and a disposable thong. So wait- Do we wear this thong and then our bathing suit top? Do we put the disposable thong over our heads? Is this really a hairnet or a hair tie? We were so confused but we didn't ask questions. We proceeded to the next room where the Hammam would take place. Together.
Prepare to Strip Down
I'm not even kidding when I say to just "bare it all". I was standing in my bathrobe with this disposable thong underneath, one of my friends did the same but wore her bathing suit top, and my other friend decided to not bare all and wore her top and bottom underneath her robe.
We are all still waiting to be separated into individual rooms for the Hammam but then we were told to completely undress right there together. That was when we realized that we were in for a surprise- This bath we were going to take was going to be a group bathing session.
Giggle but Then Get Over it
The room where the Hammam took place looked beautiful but it was dark and steamy. We were told to sit in a half circle seating area with a fountain filled with water in the middle. At this point we are all just sitting down naked, staring at each other, then looking down at our bare naked selves with our arms covering our lady parts, giggling and questioning each other on what will happen next.
We were then told to form a line in front of the fountain. We giggled some more but conformed to her instructions. The woman splashes us, using a large bowl to pick up and throw the water at us one by one. She's also giggling at us because we looked so uncomfortable and unprepared. This woman must have thought we were so sheltered for not understanding that this is part of their culture. There is no shame in undressing in front of each other (same sex of course) for this type of service.
Relax, Let the Job Get Done
Don't tense up because you're embarrassed or feel uncomfortable because of some stranger who is bathing you and your friends right next to each other. Completely normal. Yeah, I won't lie, it was a bit awkward at first because we didn't think that this was how we would see each other naked, or that we would ever see each other naked! Maybe at the beach if waves pulled down our tops (guilty) or an accidental "hello there" while changing next to each other but not while we are being bathed together!
We quickly realized that this was actually pretty awesome! We were bathed head to toe (and everywhere in between), lathered with soap, scrubbed down, and we even had our hair washed for us. Also, our skin started to feel so smooth as the Hammam went on.
We then laughed at how childish we were in the beginning and shouldn't have paid any mind. I mean, after all, we do have the same things just different sizes! 0_0
A Henna Hammam is not a Henna Tattoo
During the Hammam, the woman bathing us would show us the product she would be using next and explained what it was used for. When we booked our reservation, we saw that the Hammam would come with a Henna application. Being the culturally sheltered person I was at the time, I thought that meant Henna tattoo. This was not the case when the woman said "Henna" and slathered the Henna paste all over my body.
Enjoy the Complimentary Tea
After we were rinsed off and dried up, we were escorted to a holding area for some tea. The room was neatly designed with a white comfy couch and blue florescent lighting. We sat there in our bathrobes with our towels wrapped around our heads reviewing our crazy trip in Morocco. This was like happy hour drinking martinis and talking up with your girlfriends but instead chatting over tea in Morocco. It was pretty sweet (both the tea and the trip)!
Would I do it Again?
Absolutely! It was definitely a memorable experience for all of us. At first, we were unsure about what was going to happen but it was such a fun and relaxing experience. We seem to always reminisce on the story about surviving the Hammam in Morocco or retell it over again with our other friends!
If I were to go back again to Morocco, I would willingly do the Hamamm again! Next time, I'll know what to expect ;)