On Turkish Baths

My Jordan Trip

Wearing nothing but my underwear and a hotel-owned towel, I waited inside a steam room (that was barely warm and looked like a wine cellar) ‘til an attendant told me it was my turn.

I gingerly walked through the hallway and searched for a bathroom door. There wasn’t any door. Only a scrubbing area with a curtain-clad entrance.

I peeked inside and saw a tall, plump woman wearing a black robe waving me to come in.

She greeted me with what sounded like a grunt.

It wasn’t the most welcoming sound but I was feeling bold and I really wanted to get this over with so I could start enjoying my Unli WiFi access (to upload photos, of course).

She told me to get rid of the towel and I complied.

From head to toe she eyed me,  as if assessing how much filth I amassed from a day of trudging through the dusty, ancient red-rose city of Petra.

Sensing she had a lot to clean, she began working.

I’m sure my mom bathed me when I was too young to take care of myself. Maybe my aunts occasionally did, too. But I had no recollection of these older-women-bathing-me moments.

Yet this Turkish Bath, given by a strong, stern woman, was seared into my memory.

How can I put it?

Imagine you’re a water container lined up for cleaning in a factory.

There were forceful soaping, brushing, and rinsing, as if my skin was made of plastic.

The movements were vigorous and had no pattern.

Try as I might, it was hard to predict where she would strike me next.

Amazingly, I endured.

Just because I was told there would be a massage after the painful purification.

What followed was not a gentle rub on my back. 

Instead, she motioned me to stand up, signaling the end of my bath.

I couldn’t believe what was happening.

I wanted to ask for a refund but one look at her and my knees weaken. I couldn’t summon the courage to complain. She’s the type of woman you wouldn’t want to cross.

After this experience, I felt nothing but great respect and admiration for women from Turkey. I’d go as far as say they’re heroic for enduring this torture just to look spotless.

Maybe the 13JD I spent for unlimited WiFi and thorough yet brutal bath was worth it.

At least, I could warn my nieces or grandkids someday to google Turkish Bath before trying it.


If you like this post, then you’ll probably enjoy A to Z Guide to Enjoying Jordan.

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