My first hamam was like my first yoga class, I had to realize everyone practising was dead serious before I could surrender to the process.
A hamam is a public bath house.
Historically, and not so historically, people didn’t have access to hot water, making a hamam the place where, usually once a week, you could wash your body then rest your weary bones, on a hot stone floor.
In the Madinas (old cities), most communities have a hamam.
So I’m told, relax.
A signature sign a hamum is old, which is my preference, is that it burns wood to heat the water and the rooms.
Opposed to a lot of the modern hamams, which use the blood of deformed children.
Bobby wanted the most traditional hamam experience, in one of the oldest hamams in Fez.
And brother, he got it.
Why am I speaking so casually in third person?
Probably because describing the experience is easier, if I imagine it happened to someone else.
And I’m, in fact, that sassy southern Dukes of Hazard narrator.
I naturally asked an eclectic group of local bros where I could find the oldest hamam in Fez?
After some debate, two of the guys kindly walked me to a inconspicuous building.
Before I could properly hamam tho, I had to buy a hamam kit.
Starting with a style of underwear not worn since Spartacus was giving closet homosexual Romans, stone boners. 10 Dh.
As good as man panties look on these men. I can assure you, don’t.
I was encouraged to buy a glove made of high grit sand paper. 5Dh.
A locally made, brown, gel like soap, made from olive oil and the blood of deformed children.
The smell is transcendent. 5Dh.
Cost to enter the hamam. 10Dh.
A hamam is, in essence, three tiled rooms.
The first is cold.
The second is warm.
And the third is a sauna.
That’s where the party is.
After reluctantly changing into my fresh new minimalist underwear.
A tall skinny man with no teeth motioned for me to enter the rooms with him.
Him having absolutely zero teeth is an observation of a characteristic, I’m not teeth shaming him.
I was expecting a strange man to latch onto me in the hamam.
The locals told me about the men who loiter around the hamams, looking for feeble dudes to scrub for juicy coin.
Dudes such as Bobby.
Initially I was against the idea, but after entering the hamam without my glasses, rendering me basically blind.
Combined with not understanding the proper hamum etiquette, I allowed the toothless man, who had his eye on me from the beginning, to step in and hamam me.
First he filled several buckets with hot water from a tiled spring in the sauna room.
And a bucket of cold water from the second, colder room.
He rinsed an area of floor in the sauna with hot water, then motioned for me to lay down.
He then started rubbing me down with the brown olive oil soap.
It wasn’t until we started doing acrobatic tandem stretches, that I started feeling slightly, what the fuck?
He preformed some unusual moves on me, I’ll leave it there.
Half Greco-roman half karma sutra.
Ok, leaving it.
I’m a professional.
I maintained cooperation so that this toothless Michangelo would make me David.
Alas, my back has zero moles on it.
My nipples, what nipples?
I’ll say he was rough, but fair.
Until he started washing my hair.
That, I don’t mind saying, is a rather intimate act, reserved for the few women I’ve professed my undying love for.
And Patrick Swayze.
Not toothless Mike.
No offence to him, it just…
He’s not Patrick Swayze
At the end of my hamam, I learned the vital ” Discuss costs for services, before you receive services” lesson.
That said, what would I charge to scrub another man down?
A stranger from a fairly wealthy country, wearing man panties, helplessly starfishing before me?
Do you have MasterCard?
Is it the sense of community that bathing in a room filled with bathing people creates?
The ancient process you’re instructed to follow?
I don’t know?
But, I haven’t showered traditionally since the cold malaria showers in Senegal.
I hamum now.
I love to hamum.
Until one day, science resurrects the Swayze.