Little shoes for little people...and kittens...
Little shoes for little people…and kittens…

I wanted to go to Marrakech for a variety of reasons. Colour. Heat. Leather. Faces. THOSE FACES. The absence of Australians. The presence of donkeys. Leather. To name just a few. I got it all and more.

Deeply attracted to the idea of experiencing a non-westernised Hamman we convinced ourselves and more importantly Hassan to lead the way and get us one step further towards complete cleanliness. Being the obliging person that he is he delivered us into the hands of a bunch of utterly determined women more than happy to perform whatever it is they do in those places. A dim memory of a certain moment in Istanbul about four years ago made me feel vaguely confident that I knew what was coming…well, little did I know indeed.

Having negotiated whatever treatment we did agree on (needless to say I am no master of the Arabic language) Hassan bade a hasty retreat thus severing our last connection with the world outside. And then it was on.

Woman in bath - artwork Pauline Zenk
Woman in bath – artwork Pauline Zenk

An ancient slip of a woman sitting in the folds of the first interior room smiled her toothless grin – and fell asleep again. Another one slightly younger by a century or two took over and delivered us to the third woman who happened to be our designated Mistress of Gommage. While undoubtably in charge of something, one wouldn’t have guessed judging solely by her attire…which comprised of a fabulously torn and ratty pair of bicycle or maybe pyjama pants desperately hanging onto her many folds and curves. Royal blue. What an impression. And that was only the beginning.

Fast forward about thirty minutes. In the sea of many many MANY mostly naked and glistening women and girls of all ages I was lying facedown on a somewhat questionable rubber mat being tossed and pummelled in no uncertain terms by Madame. Applying some weird rubbery slimy substance –  Gommage! – she regularly uttered some medium threatening grunts and shouts relying on increasing volume for enhanced understanding. Which did not work. I was beyond understanding. What I did grasp though was the need for that obscure rubber mat…as it somehow helped to glue me to the floor instead of swishing and sloshing around the floor like a greased bean. A greased naked bean. A greased naked white bean amongst the sea of not-so-white other greased naked beans. All colliding while washing this or that or THAT body part.


What did I get myself into? Artwork Pauline Zenk
What did I get myself into?
Artwork Pauline Zenk

Determined to somehow survive this cultural environment I focused on NOT fainting…not an easy task considering the heart stroke inducing heat, the overall surrealism and a simply mind-boggling ‘massage’ – with the remnants of my by then boiling brain I thanked whatever Goddess Of The Holy Soap might be overseeing this spectacle for preventing my arms from being wrenched out of their sockets…formerly frozen shoulder and all. Mon dieu. Just imagine: one faints…only to awake to the reality of having had one’s INSIDES scrubbed as well as those outer bits. More mon dieus indeed.

Well, that did not happen. We escaped slightly bruised, incredibly clean and with a mutual understanding to not repeat this. Ever. Maybe the odd Western influence not so bad after all. Lesson learned!

Road Zara tiles galore...Medina, Marrakech
Road Zara tiles galore…Medina, Marrakech

Marrakech has captured my heart…and I am confident I shall return! Ideal Husband is most interested in a collaboration with one of those skilled metal artisans making those mesmerizing lamps…rather than applying lamps in whatever delectable shape to those shoes and boots, the idea is to work on a heel together…first steps have been made. One of those little projects keeping creativity alive…and of course cross-cultural muscles trained…apart from those donkeys, there is always potentially a little Balinesque catastrophe lurking…or not. Let’s focus on OR NOT.

Sitting in a nice cafe in Barcelona right now enjoying the vibes of the Gothic Quarter it is time to introduce fellow creatives…check out Pauline Zenk whose painting and illustration made this blog so visually pleasing…AND another one since I neglected to do so in my last blog….check out the work of German artist Iris Schieferstein! Not for the faint hearted but visually out there. On her site, go to Austellungen/ Exhibitions and then ‘Objekte’.

Hope you are all having a good day today. Sending a lovely smell of coffee (Barcelona style) your way…or some fabulous chocolate if you do prefer!



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