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Monday, 30 April 2007

Mayhem in Marrakech - Page 2

Written by Rick Robiar
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I need to clarify something up front. I suffer from the affliction of Attention Deficit Disorder. That means at times my mind flies from one activity to another with a reckless abandon akin to a wrecking ball being swung to and fro by an intoxicated construction worker dabbling at the helm. It’s not that I can’t concentrate at all. When there’s something important happening, about 4% of the time I act quite normal and get things done in a reasonable way. The other – slightly higher percentage of the time – I flail wildly upon the task at hand. So when I heard Marrakech was an exotic, bustling, fast-paced city with much to explore my mind began to rev its engines, craving the fuel of multiple simultaneous endless distractions. This was right down my alley.

At some point we decided it was time to de-stress. We found a place that does ‘Moroccan massage’, I was intrigued. The manager explained that the treatment would be in two parts – first I would be taken into the hammam room – a large steam room where one is scrubbed down with loofa and black soap, then splashed with water and toweled dry, and a vigorous massage would follow.

I was then introduced to my masseur, a tall, thin Moroccan man in his early 30’s. We exchanged pleasantries and I mentioned that I was also a massage therapist back in the states. He told me to undress, and as I did, he did too. That’s not how we do it back home, I thought. Since he wasn’t a mind reader, he continued stripping down to his birthday suit, girded himself with a towel and led me into a large wet room with many floor drains and a platform at its center. I lay down and before I could ask any questions he began picking up large buckets of hot water and splashing them onto me in a somewhat forceful manner. I hollered my displeasure at the water being too hot, but soon my screams of protestation were reduced to a gurgling whimper as he bolted the next steaming bucket of H2O into my face. “It’s not too hot” he declared. For a split second I imagined attacking my therapist and knocking him to the floor, so I could demonstrate just how hot one of these torture buckets were. That dream was soon expunged by yet another ear-piercing cry, as a third wave of scalding liquid seared my burning body.

After the latest deluge subsided, I quickly tried to spot my therapist, so I could know which direction the next bucket would be coming from. I heard his feet pitter-patter toward me and through my blurry vision I caught his approach to the left, but instead of more water he was wearing two large, thick white gloves. He began to rub my back vigorously. Although the hot water routine was no picnic, his scrubbing technique was final confirmation of a blatant sadist tendency.

My painful bellowing echoed through the spacious hammam as he attacked one innocent limb after another with merciless efficiency. “Come on,” he challenged me, “you need this, you need this.” There are many things I need, I thought, someone scrapping down my third degree burns with brillo pads was not high on the list. He then showed me a pile of removed skin as evidence of the necessity of his actions. “This is dead skin,” he said, “its not healthy.” I contemplated the possibility that perhaps the skin was alive before he killed it.

Next was a black soap scrub which smelled of rotting fish. He covered me entirely with smelly suds and then it was time to break out the ice water. Suddenly it was too cold in this chilly room as each splash beckoned hypothermia. Finally we were done and it was time for the massage. But just then another customer came in whom my therapist recognized and they chatted. My therapist then explained I would have to wait, this man needed to get his massage first. Shivering uncontrollably and smelling of dead fish, I agreed.

(Page 2 of 3)
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