Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hammam Mia!!

Do you all remember my post about the Korean Spa experience?  Well let me tell you I have discovered a treatment that is on steroids compared; meaning it is far superior. I am not casting any dispersions on those that run the Wi Spa or any other type of healing treatment centers in the USA at all because in L.A. Wi Spa is a small slice of heaven.

However if you are ever in Morocco it is imperative that you try the Hammam.  Yes it sounds just like it reads pronounced [HAM-MAM].  Allow me to explain, in Moroccan culture the hammam is vital for both men, women and children.  It is a cleansing ritual that is also a social experience primarily in the public hammams.  I chose to attend a hammam in the Riad across the alley from where I am staying because it is more private.  Of course men and women bathe separately. And if you have any inhibitions about nudity the hammam is not for you.  You are escorted to a locker with a key for you to change into only a disposable undergarment. You are not granted privacy for changing either, the women stand with you while you change, [I guess to minimize the dawdling] and once you are ready you are escorted into a wet room with full steam - quite lovely - and then you either sit or lay on the bench made of stone or wood depending on the hammam.  A woman  runs hot water into a small tub and then uses a small bowl dips it into the tub of water and tosses it all over your body face head and all.  When I say "hot" I mean bathwater hot, hotter than tepid but not boiling.  And when I say "toss" it's not disrespectful like throwing water in your face or throwing water at you from a bowl, it's a pouring motion with a lot of enthusiasm.  It's almost like watching an animal or vehicle get cleaned.  I don't liken myself to an animal or a car but I do understand.  At this point I also get why you are given the disposable panty.  Your regular underwear would not survive a hammam.

Once you are drenched the woman rubs every inch of your body with black soap.  And then leaves you alone for about 20 minutes or so and increases the steam for the black soap to absorb into your skin.  After 20 minutes or so the woman then douses your body again to wash the soap off your body.  Then if you are sitting she asks you to lay down on your stomach to begin to rub/massage a black powder exfoliant on your legs and back and then you flip over onto your back where she rubs your front down with the same exfoliant.  Once again she leaves you this time for a bit longer like 30 minutes so the exfoliate that becomes a muddy substance can absorb into your skin with the steam.  She was being polite, gently putting some mud on my cheeks, chin and forehead before she stepped out.  Funny thing is once I was alone again, I made a mad dash for the bowl slathering the muddy exfoliant all over my face like a crazy person.  I know the benefits of African black soap so now that I know it comes is a spa grade powder form I went for it.  YES I looked like Martin Sheen [photo #1] in the rising out of water scene from Apocolypse Now.  Or Jaguar Paw played by Rudy Youngblood [photo #2] from Apocolypto.  But I didn't care.  I am in Africa being pampered by my people.
(Photos courtesy of Google)

The final step of hammam is either a 30 or 60 minute massage immediately after the bath.  The only product used to for the massage portion of the treatment [which includes foot reflexology massage and a head massage] is Argan Oil.

After the hammam my skin felt clean, soft and new.  Argan oil gets completely absorbed into your skin and hair so it never trails on or stains your clothing.  What one is encouraged to do after your hammam is to relax with a cup of Moroccan tea.  Hot herb tea with crushed fresh mint leaves and sugar cubes.  After my hammam at noon, I met up with a few locals for Moroccan tea and small conversation, did nothing really motivating for the rest of the day just chilled!  I'm writing about this on day two and my skin [all over] is still as soft an new as yesterday.  My legs, knees and elbows are not scaly dry and my face is glowing, it's crazy.

Now you know I took no photos of my first hammam so enjoy the slide show here of what it looks like to hammam. What a revelation of a tradition dating back thousands of years.  The cost in USD only $30.00, and a little more for an hour massage.  In America this treatment would cost hundreds of dollars, having to pay separately for all services.  And yes I will be back each week for a hammam until I return home.  "When in Rome..."  To put it simply, there is just no other way to bathe. I should have called this post Hammam-lujah!!!!  

Here is a closing visual of what hammam is kinda like in a comical way, remember the scene in Coming to America when the slave girl says to Eddie Murphy's character, "The royal penis is clean your highness" ? Well... I'm just sayin' ...


  1. Sounds like an absolutely spectacular experience. Enjoy!

  2. I can totally see you going for the exfoliant like a kid to a cookie jar. You so cute. lol

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