Travel Diary Marrakesh Day 3
Now if there’s one thing that has to be on everybody’s to-do list, it’s a visit to the Hammams. These rituals play an important role in Moroccan life and society. The tradition of steaming and bathing with endless amounts of water being poured on you, followed by various levels of massage ranging from medium to something that feels like you’re being tortured! Well, I must have been feeling soft at heart on this occasion towards my sister, so I didn’t take her to a local establishment to give her the full experience, but instead to a more luxury venue that caters more for tourists. We get touted by a gentleman to visit this particular establishment. However, I’m glad we did. As we ascend to the top of the steps, we are greeted by a team of the most delightful ladies. What struck me as I looked up to the ceiling were the intricate stained glass windows with shards of sunlight streaming across the room and hitting the marble fountain with rose petals scattered delicately across the surface of the water. As the smoke of jasmine-scented joss sticks spiraled upwards, it created an environment of stylish Arabian mystique. Wendy and I looked at each other, sharing a smile knowing full well it was time for pampering, and this they do well in Morocco. The ladies, after serving mint tea, guided us to the locker room, showed us the lockers to put our valuables in and handed us a robe and a pair of identical black pants. Although I had said nothing, I had thought they were rather skimpy. We were then led to the steam room, where the lady pointed for Wendy to sit and then invited me to sit opposite her. Already the billow of steam was welcomed on our skin. But what happened next neither of us was quite expecting. Before you knew it, my sister’s robe was whipped off by the lady only for me to be fully confronted by my sister in her glorious birthday suit! We both stared at each other stunned and then doubled over laughing. Since childhood, the worst thing is when we get a fit of giggles. Of course, this was the first time I’d ever seen my sister in such a ‘natural’ state, and of course more reason for this personal joke was the fact that myself and all my brothers used to torment Wendy, being the only girl in the family whose assets were as flat as pancakes! But being Wendy, who is quite capable of standing her ground, would retort back, “ Well boys, mine might be flat as pancakes, but when I’m old, nothing will be heading down south and everything will be part and still exciting!” …of course, she was right! The fits of giggles continued to get worse because halfway through our steam when we were told to lie on the hot marble, we were both trying to out-psyche each other as the temperature became exceptionally unbearable! We were trying to outdo each other by playing it cool and calm. But it was when Wendy asked me her question quizzically, “You know the pants they gave us to wear, how are you as a man supposed to cover your modesty with this tiny piece of string at the front? “ I instantly replied, “Darling, the steam has got to your head, you have your thong on back to front!”
One of Morocco’s treasures is the Jardin Majorelle, a plot of 12 acres of meticulously covered rare botanical marvels. It has to be visited first thing in the morning while the light is fresh highlighting the kaleidoscope of colors of opening blooms. This is also the best way to fully appreciate the gardens- tourist-free. It’s like a picture postcard with the contrast of bougainvillea’s spilling against the signature cobalt blue walls and fountains. It is like a fusion of the Greek island of Mykonos with an Arabic flavor.
أتمنى لكم رحلة من العمر
I visited this garden before and dragged Wendy off with much excitement to my personal favorite surreal spot. This veranda has a boundary of latticework that overlooks a long clean-lined water feature with its avenue lined with serene bamboo. The sounds of birds add to this Garden of Eden. Some of the feathered creatures that dance around us are endemic to North Africa. The garden was designed by French artist Jacques Majorelle. Thankfully such passion continued as Pierre Bergé and legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent took ownership in the ’80s. It seemed like a perfect and fitting way to end our blissful trip, to pay homage to the king of fashion whose ashes lay scattered in the place he loved so dearly. I take my hat off to a man of such talent.