I had my first "culture-shock" moment last week.
No, not the kind of culture shock that makes me want to leave Morocco. Not even the kind of culture shock that makes me miss home intensely. It was the kind of situation where no matter how long I was in it, I couldn't quite get used to it. It was that kind of culture shock.
I went to a hammam with a sweet Moroccan friend, Oumaima. A hammam, is a public bathhouse. I knew that they were very popular here in Morocco and that it was imperative that I visit one while I was here. But I wasn't quite sure what to expect.
I guess it doesn't matter. I don't think any amount of information would have totally prepared me for the nakedness and the beautiful lack of shame displayed in the hammam. Women bathed without any thought of covering themselves, and I kept thinking I'd get used to it, until my eyes shifted from the ceiling or a wall to a person. And then I realized I still wasn't used to it.
Oumaima was wonderful and talked me through the elaborate bathing steps.
I was shocked by all of the dead skin that came off of me. Spaghetti, she called it. She curiously asked me, "What do you do with your dead skin in America?" Honestly? "I don't do anything with it," I replied. Her mouth dropped and I just laughed.
I couldn't imagine how soft my skin would be if I went to the hammam every week, as was customary for many Moroccan women.
Afterwards, Oumaima made sure I was fully wrapped up and warm so that the change of temperatures wouldn't mess with me (I guess Colombians would get along just fine here). We headed back to her house, napped on the divans (like couches) a bit and then had a wonderful cous cous lunch.
After all, it was Cous Cous Friday.