Morocco: Have a Cultural Experience

One of my favorite aspects of couch surfing is the unique cultural experience you can have.  This is what keeps me looking for new couchsurfing hosts in each country I visit, because no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get the same experiences in a hotel or hostel.
 

In the first month of my backpacking trip, I started hitchhiking from the northern part of Morocco with plans to make my way south through the Sahara.

 Most of the large cities in Morocco tend to be crowded with tourists from many parts of the world, but the more you move away from the big cities, the more interesting things you will see.  Before this, I had only traveled in the USA and Europe, so now I was craving something different.  I wanted a new cultural experience and I got it.
 
It was night when I arrived at my couchsurfing host’s house in Casablanca, Morocco after a long day of hitchhiking.  As soon as I put my stuff down, I was itching for a shower.  I grabbed my shower supplies, my towel, and headed toward the bathroom.
 
No shower.
 
I looked around at the other rooms.
 
No shower.
 
Finally, I smiled and said to my host, “I just can’t seem to find the shower anywhere.  Can you show me where it is?”
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It was then that I was introduced to a foreign concept: Hammam.

I had no idea about the Hammam, but I quickly learned it was a public bath.  If I wanted to be clean during my stay in Casablanca, it was my only option, because there was no shower in the house where I was staying. 
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I exchanged looks with the two girls who were traveling with me.  The next morning we set out with three buckets in hand to the nearest Hammam. 
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Since we were staying outside the city, English was not spoken.  Even our host spoke very little English.  The three of us entered the Hammam, only to find three old women staring at us, assuming that we spoke perfect Arabic.  
One of the women attempted to give us long instructions in Arabic.  She failed, so another woman tried.  I tried to stress that no matter how slowly they talked in Arabic, I was NOT going to understand.
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Finally, the three old ladies just quickly signed to us to strip down into nothing.  The silence was deafening.  The three of us exchanged smirks and slowly started taking off all our clothes.  The situation was uncomfortable enough with the language barrier, but the three women sat there with blank stares watching us take off our clothes as if we were from a different planet. 
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After the initial awkward moments, things got easier. 
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We had a cultural experience like none I have ever had at that point, as I sat without clothes on little chairs in a room full of local women, bathing together without shame.
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If you are open, traveling will present many different cultural experiences that can open your eyes to something totally new and different.
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 Next time you travel to foreign lands, don’t forget to research the cultural experiences you can have and try some out!

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More on Morocco: 
 
  • Have you ever had a unique cultural experience in your travels?
  •  Anything on your bucket list for the future?
  •  Share your stories and ideas below
Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comMorocco: Have a Cultural Experience