A public bathhouse in Morocco. There is usually one or more Hammams in each quarter of the medina, and they all conform to the same general layout. There is a changing area, where men strip down to their underwear; bathing in the nude is not allowed. Then there are three interconnected rooms: the cold water room, the warm room, and the hot water room.

Upon paying your fee, you will be given two buckets, usually made out of old tires stitched together. After washing any grit or funk that has collected on the rubber, you can head to the hot water room, fill up, and then move to the warm or cold room to wash up. Generally men wash by squatting on the floor and pouring water and soap over their bodies (for Westerners unused to squatting, the slippery tiles can be a little treacherous). The hot water room is similar to a sauna, except for the queue to fill up buckets--it's a good place to stretch out and relax. You will also probably find attendants that are willing to give you a vigorous massage for a small fee; if no attendants are available, regular folks may also volunteer their services.

After your pores have opened and you're feeling thoroughly scrubbed, hit the cold room for a bracing rinse and head back to change into your clothes and return to the medina, clean, cool and refreshed.

Note: I have no first-hand experience with women's Hammam's: I've heard that women bathe in the nude (and furthermore, that Moroccan women shave all of their body hair). I've also been told that women's Hammams are a lot more social--women bring stools and just hang out for hours, chatting and enjoying the water. If any female noders have anything to add, please do so!

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