A visit to a Turkish bath

Meg and I had planned to go adventure up to the Roman ruins in Jerash on Saturday but were dissuaded by our sunburns and lack of desire to continue walking around. To compromise we headed downtown to one of the many hamams that exist around town for an experience that neither of us have had before. It’s on my Jordan bucket list!

This particular Turkish bath (or hamam, as they are known) is near a popular restaurant downtown in a very old building. There are special hours for women and men and when we first got there I was hoping I had all my information straight! While we waited for the non-descript door to be opened after I pressed the doorbell I got the distinct feeling that I needed to know the secret password to get in. Open Sesame, maybe?

Once inside Meg and I were handed a package of soap, scrubbies, and an attractive pair of disposable undergarments and ushered down some old wooden stairs to the hamam. The air was warm and humid and the sauna, the first step in the process, was obnoxiously hot! It seemed like Friday I could barely breathe because the air was so hot and dry and on Saturday I could barely breathe because the air was so hot and humid.

Once the sauna was aired out just a tad Meg and I could sit in relative comfort. I could feel all the crap in my lungs airing out and whatever toxins I didn’t manage to sweat out yesterday certainly had a struggle staying! The gal in charge of making sure each woman in the hamam went through the cycle smoothly came and rescued us from the sauna and deposited us onto separate stone slabs where any skin I had was roughly exfoliated, sunburns included. Ouch!

Note: Turkish baths are awesome and at times uncomfortable, which seems to be a common theme among things that are ultimately good for you. Like broccoli. However, if you can visit one when parts of your skin don’t closely resemble a tomato that would be preferable.

Splashed with soaps and some sort of lovely-smelling stuff an all-too-brief massage followed the scrubbing and I couldn’t help my internal commentary.

‘Why is she touching my face? God, this disposable underwear is awkward. Can I open my eyes? Should I try to apologize for not shaving? Man, when I lay like this my nose is really squished. AAAHHH that water is now up my nose. Cool. Is there a purpose to the face touching? Kinda feels random. Are there energy points up there or something? Oh well. Wait, why is she pulling my hair?! Whatever, the head massage feels pretty good. I might be able to fall asleep. AHH SOAP IN THE EYE…’

I amuse myself if nothing else.

The next stop was a beautiful fountain Jacuzzi in the middle of the room, which I could not stick more than my feet into because of the unhappy feeling sunburn on my legs not reacting well to the very hot water. Oh, but how I would have loved to jump in and enjoy the jets! Some sort of iced, fresh juice made me feel a bit better about my perch on the side of the tub instead of in it.

Once Meg and I were done we headed to colder showers where we could change out of the (now very wet) undergarments and cool off a bit. The showers were cool- picture an old cast iron pot or pan with holes in the bottom as a showerhead, with surprisingly great water pressure! It fit well with the stone walls and austere interior.

As we dried off we were plied with delicious tea and finally emerged back into the chaos of downtown Amman, clean and refreshed and feeling a bit better for all of our walking adventures over the last few days.

I’m back to work today and she’s off visiting her host family before she leaves tonight. Here are a few pictures from when we visited The Citadel, because I’m incapable of not taking pictures there no matter how many times I visit!

Citadel 2

Restored and original arches

Citadel 3

The Jordanian flag over the Citadel

Citadel 4

Just an ancient Roman wall, no big deal.

Citadel 5

New murals on the sides of buildings

Citadel

Cool arch in front of the Umayyed mosque complex

 

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