No photos please...
16.03.2008 - 21.03.2008
Here's a temp fix for the photo problem: http://www.flickr.com/photos/12031067@N02/
I've developed a baklava problem.
You don't know. You have to see all these big clean windows full of a myriad of types of baklava. No one can resist that. And the pistacios over here blow doors on the ones back home.
Eeva - a daring Finnish girl I met who had just been travelling solo in Iran - and I got a line on a local hammam (bath house). It took a bit of perserverence to find as well as the help of a cast of locals. We were finally guided right to the door by a team of boys around the age of six or seven (but not before a older man pulled up beside us in a car and handed us candy - which here is actually a welcome gesture not an attempt at kidnapping).
The hammam was completely nondescript on the outside. Just another door on a grungy utilitarian backstreet. Behind the door, stairs immediately descended to a basement level. The first room had a fountain in the middle and alcoves around the perimeter covered in Turkish & Iranian carpets. It's lit by sunlight coming from a star shape of many tiny round windows in the ceiling (photo on flickr of a similar one I took at the Citadel). In each alcove women were relaxing, many with their children. We walked through to the next room where we changed into a wrap. Then the woman led us back into the alcove room. I was getting a little nervous that we would be bathing in the pool in the middle of the room amongst all these clothed locals...like we didn't feel enough like the center of attention as it was.
But she led us through a mirrored door to another octagonal room where the women were bathing, all real marble floors and walls with alcoves with marble basins overflowing with warm water and that same sunlit glow. They sat us down in an alcove and proceded to bathe us....kinda like when you're two an your mom washes you in the kitchen sink. What a trip. Sitting bare-assed on marble while someone else soaps you up and dumps copious amounts of warm water over you. TMI? Sorry. But it was fantastic. The place was sparkling clean. I was sparkling clean.
It's such a contrast with the women when they're up in the streets who are 95% scarved and probably 60% in full black, many with the face veils. Down below, they are far less prudish than even their California counterparts.
I'm chillin' in Hama at the moment. Just got here.