here, there, everywhere

My birthday suit

In Africa, Morocco on September 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm

This morning started with Moroccan pancakes and strong coffee.  As I waited for my teacher to show up for my cooking class, Ali, the hostel manager took me to a hammam for a clean up.  The best part? Hopping on the back of his motorbike for a rip through the narrow streets without breaking speed to accommodate the pedestrians, donkeys and other bikes.  It was only half a kilometre and honestly, I would have skipped the hammam to keep going just to find out if we’d ever crash but he deposited me safely at the spa door.

The hammam was glorious but it is not for the faint of heart…

You strip down to nothing and sit on the hot marble in the steam room.  Then some woman comes in and covers you in black Moroccan clay before scrubbing it all off along with a few layers of skin to erase your tan lines.  After the scrub down she leaves you to swelter out the toxins for about five minutes, comes back to tell you you’re beautiful, then asks for a tip.  No problem, I’ll just pull it out from my belly rolls, what?  Then it was off to the massage table for a half hour of tenderizing and re-purposing.  If mass can neither be created nor destroyed at least it can be redistributed.  I’m looking at my legs and feet and think some of my calves have ended up in my toes.  My masseuse had at least 110 pounds on my kitchen meat tenderizer and she used every ounce, contorting my body until I felt like a trussed pig.  I think she disengaged my shoulder from the socket but miraculously put it back in in better shape than before.  At one point I was laughing so hard I was shaking and she asked how I was.  I told her she was very strong and she hollered back the only English word she knew, FORCE!!!  No wait, she also knew TIPS!!!  Eventually it came to an end and at least for the next twelve hours I will be as smooth and soft as the day I was born.

When I got back to the hostel my cook was there and we headed out to the market to buy the ingredients for my dish.  My first ever Berber tagine was bubbling away on the stove as Mohammed, my instructor, told me I’d have to eat the whole thing which would have been fine if I had had an appetite and was a family of four and wasn’t already booked in for a Moroccan feast this evening.  We threw one gigantic chili in uncut and when young Karim came in to eat he thought it was a regular pepper and took a giant bite before screaming like a banshee and running to stick his head in the freezer.

The feast this evening was prepared by the women who cook and clean the hostels and they put together a huge Moroccan meal complete with tagine, noodles, rice in cinnamon, and a ton of other dishes.  About 40 people showed up and I managed to get in a conversation with a former zookeeper who showed me the scars remaining from being bitten by some weird lizard from Peru.  All in all it was a pretty great day

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