Hammam

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Islamic mosaics, Marrakech 

The supreme pleasure of the hammam experience deserves a post of its own. Here’s how it works:

1. You enter a heated, slightly steamy room with flat stone beds, a shower and tiny windows that let just enough light in to give the room a pleasant glow.

2. A woman rinses you with warm water very professionally and you start getting used to the fact that someone else is about to bathe you.

3. You lay still on the bed until your pores open under the influence of some fragrant oil or another and you finally gasp for air.

4. The woman, who is very friendly now, comes in wearing a rough mitt called kese and begins to scrub your body thoroughly, at first lightly, then as hard as she can. Best places: back and neck.

5. You feel embarrassed by the amount of dead skin coming off of you in little grey clumps, but you are reassured that it’s not only normal, but very good for you. The skin will generate new cells very quickly and will feel refreshed and healthy.

6. The woman, now your closest friend, rinses you off and covers you with volcanic mud or ash or some other such thing.

7. After some time spent contemplating the precipitation on the ceiling, the woman gives you a final rinse and this time you don’t care you are naked and don’t even rush to your bath towel the way you would normally do.

8. You feel the cleanest you ever have as you are led to a quiet area where there is tea and Moroccan cookies and you get a foot massage from a big Berber man. You can rest there for a moment before facing the world with you brand new layer of skin.

More about Marrakech: The “hidden sights” and Sounds of Marrakech and Moroccan food: joys and pains

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