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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Heather's Scrub

This has got to go down as one of the most hilarious travel experiences I have ever had...first, I’ll explain the idea of a Turkish bath: you get scrubbed by someone armed with a lofah sponge until you are gleaming. Sounds easy enough, if not a wee bit intimate and right horrific, yes, but I had to try it

First, I walked to the Hamam (Bath) from my hostel and in my hurry to get off the busy street full of locals staring at me; I enter the MEN's baths. There was a crescendo of murmuring and a flurry of towels and I was immediately rushed out and across the street to the Women Only Bath. Oooops! Teehee...

I was not too excited when I entered the bath as it seemed kind of seedy in there, but I had asked at my hostel for a good bath that was not touristy, so I had committed. Plus, I was more curious than I was scared.

I changed into the cracked, well-used flip flops and a rather tatty-looking towel and was shown into the bath area.

Creepy! Shafts of dim light came through open holes in the tower above my head and the room was steamy and claustrophobic-feeling with its wetness.

I was told to WASH! By an angry looking old lady and she motioned for me to sit on the marble. I was a little creeped out sitting el nude-o on the wet marble where everyone else's parts had been, but again with the curiosity....

The old lady left and I splashed water over myself from an urn beside me that looked like a toilet mounted on the wall. There was a 'fresh' water supply coming in from a tap that lent a sort of calm-watery sound to the air with its constant drip.

Somewhat doused in water, now, I sort of just sat there, all modestly trying to cover myself with my hands while I watched what the woman across from me was doing. She seemed to be overly enjoying herself and hardly noticed me until I got up to leave and she said, finished? With a look of shock. I had NO idea what I was supposed to be doing! Was I supposed to have brought my soap? She had some... did I ask to borrow hers? Was anyone going to come a scrub me, or what?

Being impatient, I walked back out into the foyer and there again was much murmuring and the angry old lady came over and pushed me back into the bath saying WASH! I suddenly wondered if I’d stumbled into a Turkish women's prison...

So I just sat there, splashing bowl after bowl of water over myself until finally the fat, angry old lady was back. But she was naked. Except for a black pair of bikini underwear - Yuk! I had visions of a more nurturing, motherly sort! Maybe she was just coming to bath herself - nope!

She slapped her hand on the giant slab of marble in the middle of the room and barked something. I went over and she pushed me down onto the marble. The next thing I know, I’m being vigorously rubbed down with a lofah sponge by the naked, fat, nasty old lady! She kept slapping me on the ass to signify that I had to turn over! And there were breast and stuff, in my face, dangling over my eyelids!

She reefed me up into a sitting position and scrubbed my arms and my hands kept brushing her saggy parts! I did look down at my arm through all this and was astonished to see these gloppy balls of dead skin all over me - Yuk! But somehow, fascinating...

WASH! She says.

Then she's back and slaps the marble again. I come over and lay down and she goes at me with soap and another sponge. There is so much lather that I keep slipping around like a soapy fish and she keeps trying to grasp my leg or my arm, but I’m all over the big marble table and barely clinging to it. I am laughing uncontrollably under my breath and this is aggravating her, which makes it funnier.


After, there is a shampoo session complete with my face between her breasts as she massages my scalp; I emerge from her flesh with soap in my eyes and frantically trying to breathe.

There is another wash and then I’m ushered to the sauna where she doesn't let me out until I have all but melted and am starting to feel faint.

Then, blessedly, it's over with a cold WASH!

And that, ladies and gents, was my Turkish Bath Experience NEVER to be had again unless I can afford the fancy hotel ones where the woman may be better looking and a bit more 'firm'...

I’m sorry for any family members that read this far. Family gatherings may be awkward now...

Well, time to go shopping for cashmeres and carpets!

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