A late start led us into the winding streets of the Medina toward the Marrakech Museum. We walked along the quiet, winding red-walled lanes followed by a man pulling a cart, repeatedly chanting something in Arabic which reminded me of the sketch in Monty Python’s, The Holy Grail.
“Bring out your Dead! Bring out your dead!” he called, banging the side of his steel cart after each call. He continued to chant getting closer to us as he followed us around corners into deserted lane after deserted lane, and our sideways glances showed our nervousness. He was probably just the local version of the milk man and we laughed when we reached the museum entrance to see him continue down the lane chanting, “Bweeingh oueurt weuoir deeaird!”
A hamman is a Moroccon institution where visitors can get a sauna, scrub down and a massage. We were led past the sleeping dog on the couch, through the arched doorway into a typical Moroccan room, lined with mirrors and blue tessellated tiles, couches on three sides and lit by colourful lamps. The sweet green mint tea was served in the Moroccan manner from a silver teapot pouring close to the glass initially then raised so the tea was gurgling into the glass from a height of 60 centimetres or so. The price agreed upon, the girls were led away, robe, towel and sumo wrestler style throw away knickers in hand while Tom and I were led in the opposite direction to the men’s hamman. We were greeted by two young men, threateningly muscular in their white sarongs and bare chests.
Finger waving and pointing sufficed for communication, “Remove your clothes. “
Another stabbing finger, fortunately not too close to the intended word and we removed our undies to be wrapped in a knee length blue shawl. Modesty was forgotten as black Moroccan soap was smeared over parts not intended for another man’s hands. We entered a narrow corridor and passed by tables covered in thick white plastic to the sauna. There we sat on the curved tiered seats, the door closed and steam entered through dozens of holes in the white domed roof. It was hot and the black soap melted or was that my fat? Fifteen minutes later we were led to the plastic covered tables where the wresters indicated for us to lie down with more gestures.
Massage on a tired body is always good. However, lying mostly naked in a dimly lit room on a slippery plastic sheet being oiled by a scantily clad man, was at times more than a little disconcerting. Hair, head, cheeks (on the face), front, back, arms, fingers, toes, soles, inside leg! Soaped and showered we emerged, true to the owner’s word, ten years younger.
Marrakech! What a place!