Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ladies in the house - Fez

Hammams are all the rage in Morocco. Everyone was talking about them so Melanie, Sara, and Lizzy had to get out there and try it. Below is a brief description of a hammam from the Fodor's guidebook:

"A hammam is a wonderful place to retreat from the hubbub of the souk and the ardors of shopping or to refresh yourself after hours of walking or trekking. If you go to the public variety, you'll have the rare opportunity to meet locals and participate in an important ritual. All public hammams are very clean, as they are checked constantly."

We had a much different experience than the one mentioned above. From the moment we walked through the door we were in an utter state of confusion. First, we were told that women wore their underwear while there..... well this is semi-true. Many were just letting it all hang out there. It was quite a sight to behold. We, the conservative Americans, wore swimming suits. I'm sure the locals thought we were crazy.

We paid for a tayeba to scrub us down. She took our money, started walking away, and motioned for us to follow her. We followed her through three different rooms. Each room was a different temperature but all were extremely hot. Everywhere we looked there were women sitting on the marble floors throwing water on themselves and scrubbing their skin. She left us standing in the hottest room and didn't return for a long time. We just stood there with "deer in the headlights" expressions on our faces while sweat dripped down us. Everyone was staring at us and a few people even tried to explain to us through charades what we were supposed to do. Finally the lady came back and took us to a room and had us sit on the dirty floor (think hostel bathrooms). Once we sat down she disappeared again. We were almost ready to walk out when she came back and started scrubbing us down. Once she was finished scrubbing (which was painful) she dumped a few buckets of water on us and walked away. We assumed she was finished and walked out as fast as possible.

In summary, it was a traumatic, hilarious, eye-opening experience. Who would have thought that in a Muslim country we would be feeling uncomfortable by the local women's modesty. This was truly an experience we will never forget. Below is a picture taken after we returned from the Hamman. We tried to recreate the expressions on our face when we first entered in bathing area.


  1. I'm dying laughing. This is funnier than when Aunt Connie's hairdresser (what is the politically correct name these days? don't know since I cut my own hair.)told her the other day that her blouse was on inside out! She had taught piano students all day that way. She was horified!

    I am totally grossed out by your experience and hope you don't have some dreaded disease when you get home.


  2. I will be laughing about this for all of 2010!

  3. Your face says it all! The only reason I can stop laughing is because it brings up my memories of our experience in the hammam in Fez as well which I would share except that I was sworn to the oath of "what happens in the Fez hammam stays in the Fez hammam."