Turkish Bath #4
Pretty much every other weekend since I returned from the states for 2010, I’ve been to some sort of Turkish Bath or Spa – one here in Madaba, one in Amman, one at the Dead Sea and one in Damascus. This is about an infinity times (approximately) more than I had ever been to something of the sort before. I’m beginning to become somewhat of an expert, and by expert I mean that I’m not 100% bumbling and awkward.
Each one operated a very similar way, but it’s a complex procedure and they don’t really give you any instructions. Step 1: Dudes only, no ladies. Once you prove your manhood and gain admittance, you sit in the steam room, which is my favorite part. The one at the Dead Sea had steam with menthol in it, which just chomped right through all your pores and cleared out your sinuses. Pretty sweet. Then, after that, you sit in the jacuzzi for about 20 minutes to soften your skin up for the next step, which is the rubdown. They take a really rough sponge thing and rub off all the dead skin on your body, and then lather you up with camel hair. It’s kind of gross because you can see the skin peel right off, and you feel like a snake or a lizard or some other type of reptile, except that they don’t make boots or belts out of your extras. It’s fun playing “Broken English vs. Broken Arabic” to try to figure out how he wants me to sit or lay down. After that, you get a mini-massage, which is more like a rubdown with soap (much more gentle than the other rubdown). Then you get 10 minutes to think about all the weird things that just happened to you in the sauna, before showering and enjoying some tea in the lobby.
Overall, very relaxing, but much more so after you have done it a few times. I kept imagining that the awkwardness was like going to a prostitute for the first time, but I imagine they might give more instructions. “Should I lie on my back now? What are you rubbing me with? Do I shower now, or later? Is this extra? Do I pay at the end? Why don’t we speak the same language?” Good times. If you come visit me, we need to go, and I’ll be the pro that can guide you through it…