The Hamam

For obvious reasons there are not many photos associated with this post.

In Essaouira we decided we should take part in the local tradition of Hamam. This wasn’t truly the local experience – it was a bit touristized, and we were made to feel pretty comfortable. The truly local experience would have cost 10 Dirham (about $1.25), and we paid 80 Dirham each! A few of the girls in our group had 2 hour long massages, with argan oil, and from their description they were basically laying face down in a pool of argan oil for two hours. But their skin did look amazing afterward.

Anyhow – we did the Hamam, with 2 other girls from our trip. 4 of us piled into a small steam room in our undies. For Jen the temperature was just kind of medium (she uses our sauna at home a lot), but for me it was basically suffocating. Our host asked in broken English if the temperature was alright, and before Jen could say, “Hotter!” I interjected with, “No No. It’s great!”

There were certain stages to the Hamam. The whole Hamam experience was approximately one hour.

#1. Steaming. We sat in the steam room and sweated.

#2. We all took turns being covered from head to toe in black olive oil soap. Luckily we had seen this black goop before in the market and knew what was happening. Kind of.

Our guide in Fes showing us some olive oil soap for the Hamam.
Our guide in Fes showing us some olive oil soap for the Hamam.

3. The soap needs some time to take effect so we sit some more while periodically rubbing black soap into our eyes, because, you know – sweat.

4. The lady has a bucket of water (presumably it was hot at some time, but has now settled out at kind of luke warm) and she dumps water on each of us in turn to wash the black soap off.

5. I have to leave the room to get a bottle of water

6. She relocates one of us to an upside down bucket in the corner and 2 of us move over on the bench. Exfoliation is about to begin. We take turns laying on the bench while she uses a very rough mitt to take off any extra skin you haven’t been using lately. From literally every part of your body. So even though she has already used the mitt on every part of your body, she asks you to sit up, and then she proceeds to use it on your face.

7. This takes a while because we are all taking turns with the scrubbing. I need to leave the room at least 3 more times because of the immense heat. (No one else seems to have a problem with it).

8. Once you are done being scrubbed you are once again doused with water and then wait.

9. Everyone is scrubbed up and then we take turns having our hair washed. This seemed to be with something less goopy than the olive oil soap.

10. The end of the hamam is signified by cold water being poured over your head. Then you get out 🙂

Wonderful experience overall.


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