A Semester in Morocco
From January to May 2015, I lived in Rabat, Morocco's capital city, studying Arabic and journalism at the Center for Cross-Cultural Learning.
Simply put, a hammam is a steam room and communal bathing area where Moroccans go to bathe once a week, sometimes more.
"You want to go to the hammam with my mum today?"
It was a simple question with an obvious answer. Because what I heard was, 'would you like to take a shower in a room larger than a walk-in closet that doesn't involve a small bucket and a hole in the wall?'
So I said yes. After a week of trying to figure out how to efficiently use a Turkish bath at home in a way that doesn't create a sopping mess of the bathroom floor (which I still haven't quite figured out), nothing sounded more appealing than a trip to the hammam.
So, with buckets full of the necessary supplies, a towel and a change of clothes in hand, I walked with my host mom and two sisters down the street to the closest one. It cost 10 dirham to enter and an extra 50+ dirham for the full treatment ($1 and $5+, respectively). Full treatment, as I've deemed it, entails the benefit of someone else washing you from head to toe. I decided to splurge this one time, because it seemed like a foolproof method: What better way to mask your confusion than behind the commands of someone else? In other words, I figured I didn't need to know what to do, so long as someone told me. We paid, and the attendant tossed us three bags of dark brown dirt-like material. A google search now tells me that it was rhassoul clay, a natural skin and hair care product.