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In an effort to showcase Islamic countries I wrote a post this year called Why You Should Visit an Islamic Country in 2015. I’ve asked several bloggers and friends to share their “firsts.” Whether it was their first time to a majority Muslim country or a meal they’ve cooked from a Muslim country, whatever resonated and spoke to them outside the mass media image of Islam. Today’s guest post comes from Diana Limongi Gabriele who writes at Ladydeelg. Enjoy!
The first time I had a hammam experience was when I was an English teacher in France. I spent two weeks in Morocco with a French Moroccan friend. It was a backpacking adventure and we were roughing it. I was 23 years old and while I definitely had a sense of adventure and had longed to see this beautiful country, I was a bit taken by the idea of a hammam- a sort of communal bathing area. Looking back now I know that I was what you’d call “pudique” (modest) and was not comfortable with just walking around naked and having other women wash me. So my first experience in a hammam was a bit frightening. I didn’t understand the experience and as a result I didn’t enjoy it.
By the second time I went to a hammam in Morocco I was much older, I was a mother and I had already been to a hammam in France (on my own!) I was so excited to go. Gone were the worries about other women looking at me– maybe after childbirth and breastfeeding you sort of stop worrying about what people wil think, perhaps when I was younger I had been worried about my less than perfect boobs, but now that I was older (and hopefully wiser) I realized the value of those bobos (they had fed my child for over a year!) and I really didn’t care what others would think.
So my second experience in a Moroccan hammam was wonderful. I got a gommage au Savon noir, and a massage. Of course there were a bit of kinks- no one told me I needed to bring toiletries so I ended up using sign language to ask them for some, and not everyone there spoke French so they would speak to me in Arabic thinking that I’d understood and I’d say (in French) “But no, I don’t understand, do you speak French?” Until someone finally rescued me and translated. I thought about the communal aspect of the hammam- women washing themselves, detoxifying, cleansing, taking care themselves. Women of all ages, sizes and shapes. It’s quite beautiful. It shows women to be comfortable in their skin. The experience inspired women to think they are beautiful, and deserve to take care of themselves.
Going to a hammam is a relaxing and renewing experience. It made me feel comfortable in my own skin and made me appreciate the sense of community this women shared. I only wish I had the opportunity to go more often. It is definitely on my list of “must-do” things in Morocco and I can’t wait to do it again!
Wondering about taking a hammam in Morocco? Check out this post on Hammam 101.
Thanks for sharing Diana! Read more about Diana’s Morocco experiences in these posts;