Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jordan Challenge 20 : Try a Hammam

Way behind on blogging these days, and my big upcoming challenge -- hosting a Wigilia Christmas Eve dinner in Jordan for TWENTY-FOUR people -- is shaping up to be one of the biggest challenges I've taken on since moving here.  For starters, turns out that a lot of Fulbrighters in Jordan didn't have plans for Christmas Eve -- but now they do, at my place.  Then, although I have not one but two sets of some of the hard-to-get items (particularly unconsecrated Communions wafers) somewhere in transit or within the bowels of the Jordan Post Office, it looks like they'll not be arriving here.  And then, the icing on the cake was the spectacular suicide of my oven and stove last night.  That one, at least, was resolved with a new-wood-and-cardboard-foundation fix that only makes me a little nervous, so the Wigilia and tomorrow's cooking party to prepare for it are still on.  Can't wait to see how it unfolds.

But in the meantime, I thought I' d try to catch up a little. In my original list of challenges for Jordan I had included a visit to a hamman (Turkish bath) and I can now report that it has happened.  And will happen again, because it is one great experience. I'd heard a few warnings that the masseurs are not gentle, and it certainly turned out to be true.  Yet the combination of steam and whirlpools and (vigorous!) scrubs and rough-ish massage leaves you feeling as if you've got an entirely new skin and at least a halfway new set of muscles.  On the down side, you do feel a bit herded in the beginning, when you are processed as a group through the first shower and steam room.  But then they start picking people off individually for their scrubs and messages, and suddenly it's easy to feel like you're the only one that matters.

I couldn't take any pictures inside, for obvious reasons, but did catch a few snapshots when Elizabeth and I took our inaugural foray on my birthday weekend to the Al-Pasha Turkish Bath.

The interior of this enclosed courtyard where Elizabeth is standing is very like the atmosphere inside the hamman (if you were to add a ton of steam).

We both paid the princely additional 3JD (about $5) for facials as well, and as you can see, I left with a whole new set of skin.
 At around 25 dinars (less than $40) for several hours of blissful relaxation and being the center of a (steamy) universe, it's just about the best, and most cost effective, luxury I can think of.  Yet another reason that everyone should come visit me in Amman.

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