Fragrant rose and cinnamon;….perhaps sandalwood and neroli as well – drifted on the warm steam as I was led gently by my right hand into a small room wearing a pale soft loose large piece of material; a pestemal, which was carefully slipped from behind as I entered this small rectangular room. “Madame, s’il vous plait”..and I was gestured to sit on a warm sheet of stone, softly moulded like skin.
A large silver ladle ceremonially poured hot water over my body….as I slid into a place of relaxation and respect.
My right hand was gently held again as warmed clay and spices combined with fragrant oils was slid carefully and with attention up my right arm. This beautiful soft poultice of mineral and earth and spices was smoothed over my whole body as the sound of gentle running water from huge brass taps filled the intimate space of steam and ceremony….and the large basin made from stone with polished trilobites and life from millennia past accompanied this ritual bathing.
I was left alone to contemplate and soften into the warm stone for some time before the beautiful girl with loving hands returned and once again ceremoniously poured water from the aged silver ladle over my body to remove the soft clay. She gestured that I lay on my back on the soft stone and was carefully scrubbed all over my body with a mitten on her hand and whilst all my discarded cells were removed I was thinking although this felt amazing….It wasn’t quite the ‘massage’ I had envisioned when I was scheduled the last appointment spot at 10pm at night.
Max and I fill the daylight hours visiting the towns and walking the streets and because the number of kilometers in the rally are fairly small. We often just arrive at the motel just before dark, and last night we were last again…and consequently my ‘massage’ appointment was the last group of the evening and the three of us I realized later rotated from the three very special elements of my ‘massage’.
In this beautiful fragrant room I was asked to stand and my hair shampooed with the froth sliding down my body as we both giggled and looked into each others eyes with loving respect.
My robe was gently placed on my shoulders and footwear placed in front of me and once again my right hand was led down some polished mud stairs to squat stools with brightly woven covers where mint fragrant tea was poured from a height leaving bubbles around the inside rim and me sitting feeling relaxed and yet wondering what else was involved in my ‘massage’ appointment…which was called a Hammam.
I was gestured to walk towards this beautiful girl as another rally participant was stepping out of a frothy tub. Ooops… I did’t understand the French for “wait there for a bit until the man gets out”… LOL.. and we all giggled as another girl led him to another room and I was helped gently into this bubbling fragrant bath where I sat and played with the rising bubbles for about half an hour. It was delicious.
I didn’t have a clue what was going to happen next, but knew when something was about to change when my practitioner smiled and came with a gesture from her right hand to take mine.
She led me into a room where I was gestured to lay on my back. She placed my pestemal on top of me and lightly dabbed some of the water from my body and then removed the robe. I felt her loving hands hold my feet and she started to ceremoniously once again begin to massage my whole body starting from my left foot and after I was lovingly massaged I was asked to roll over so the back of my body was given the same loving attention as all of my front.
There was such respect with the warmth and steam and bubbles in this ceremonial space of the Hammam. My whole body was honoured, accepted and nurtured. There was a sense of respect and beautiful connection with the women who attended to me through this ritual where we giggled and breathed together in this fragrant loving space.
At 12pm – midnight I walked back, rugged up through the cold air to my room; and under the nearly full moonlight felt with gratitude what an amazing experience I just had.