A little historical context – a hammam was not traditionally a thing of luxury. Rather, it was here that people came, if they didn’t have showers in their homes. The word itself – hammam – literally translates to washroom / shower.
Not really knowing what to expect, I wore a bathing suit for safety. Because I am not comfortable stripping in front of strangers. I’m not French.
Apparently, I’m also not Tunisian or Moroccan or Turkish or any White Girl who walks in without even a towel stoked to be bare-assed in front of us and the kitchen sink.
Because strip we did, and not by choice. More on this below.
There were four chambers, in a structure entirely of stone and marble. The deeper in you enter the labyrinth, the hotter it becomes. Each room has ice-cold, and boiling-hot faucets, water used for your skin and hair.
We sat in the hottest area waiting for our skin to soften. This needs to happen before the scrubbing. Let me for the record state that I am a clean woman who exfoliates and moisturizes, and so scraping, I thought, would neither be a thing of pain, nor result in much removal of skin.
I was wrong.
When it was my turn, I stood before the old woman in my bathing suit and I don’t know wtf kind of sorcery she called up, but before I knew it, my bathing suit was half off and she was scrubbing. And by scrubbing, I mean she had picked up a sanding machine and started to sand my skin. Hand to God, at one point I wondered if she might have taken a nipple. I don’t remember the last time I prayed that hard, but I’m quite certain that at one point I stopped breathing and passed right out.
She took layers off my skin, and I finished the colour of a lobster. Three days out, and my skin is soft and glowing. It is a thing of beauty, and if I lived in a country where hammams were available, I would make this my Sunday routine (but while wearing pasties, thank you very much).
About the nudity. It is fascinating how quickly we acclimatize, isn’t it? Before I knew it, I was all bare breasts? Why the hell not. There was a mother with a newborn latched firmly onto her breast. In my hysteria and pain, I’m certain it crossed my mind to try it because breastfeeding? Why the hell not.
Yalla. Another welcome adventure, even the breastfeeding dementia.
Today, I am grateful for:
1. Eyelashes. I haven’t had them done in over two years but decided to try them out again in Tunisia. It had crossed my mind that of course there is here a different beauty standard, but not to this extent. I can no longer wear my glasses because the lashes are so long and entirely too much fun. No one cares to even pretend they’re fake; rather, it’s all bells and whistles and lashes for days and days.
2. The Pepper family. They continue to help us through a disaster which hit us in Ottawa, and I am forever grateful.
3. My aunts. It is impossible to describe how much love and care they continue to bring into my world, alhamduliLah.