Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cappedocia Part II

Thanks for the super photo naming ideas!!! I laughed out loud when I read them! I am certain Ross' personal favorite will be the birthright one! I have so many post ideas, but I am trying to stay in chronological order. So, here is another story from my recent trip to Cappedocia.
As I said earlier, I go to this Women's Conference each year. Nursing babies are allowed to attend, so Benaiah and I went together. I didn't sign up for the tours or the hiking because it just seemed a little overwhelming to me with a 1 month old. But when the speaker mentioned several of us going to an authentic Turkish hamam, I signed up! Here is a link explaining the history of the Turkish hamam
The hamam existed as a means of someone without indoor plumbing being able to bathe. They are still used today and you can find them usually in the old part of town. 5 star hotels in Turkey have re-created them with more luxury, but this hamam was the real deal. I wasn't sure how far away it was or how involved it would be, so at the last minute, I decided to take Benaiah with me. One of the ladies said, "But how will you manage him in a hamam?" I said, "I bet there will be a teyze there who will hold him." (A teyze is the Turkish word for an auntie.) We took a dolmus (public transportation mini-bus), then walked and walked and walked to the center of town. The first picture shows the outside of the hamam. The sign out front denoted that it was the "Women Only" day (the hotel hamams tend to be co-ed and I don't frequent those!). We walked in to the dome-topped, circular structure. The floor was solid marble, the walls were all wood. In the center (last photo) was an enormous marble fountain, as well as a wood-burning stove to keep the building and water hot. I am told many of these are heated by natural springs. I ascended the very narrow circular staircase to undress and put on the towel they gave me. Now, if I were really authentic (and several of the ladies in our group were), I would just strip right down for this, but I opted for my swimsuit. We came back down and walked through the hamam into the inner heated room. Inside was a huge heated marble slab, as well as marble ledges all around the outside on which to sit. We sat, took the metal basins, put them under the continuously running hot water, and poured them over our bodies. After a time of relaxing and seeing WAY too many topless teyzes, I was escorted into another room. In this room, a very robust woman scrubbed me from head to toe with a loofah sponge. Then she took me to another very robust Turkish woman for the next step. She took an enormous pillow case filled with some type of slippery soap and spun it around until it billowed out like a cloud. Then she eased it onto me and let the soap solution run all over me. It was one of the softest things I've ever felt. Then she began to massage the soap all into my body. Hot water poured all over me cleansed away the soap, and out I walked feeling like a jelly fish. The next step would be to jump into the ice cold pool, but I preferred to keep my core body temperature up at that point.
All this while, Benaiah was passed from Turkish lady to Turkish lady out in the lobby. I love that I can trust people here. Kidnapping and other crimes against children are rare (for Allah does not forgive that). I went back up to change and as I descended, I slipped on the marble staircase. If you are a mother, you will understand this, but I welcomed the pain of falling because as it was happening, all I could think was, "Thank you, God, I am not holding Benaiah." (I was fine, just a little sore on one side!) The sweet little girl in the picture offered me apple tea. I asked to take her picture. She wanted her picture made, but asked me to wait. I assumed she was running to brush her hair, but no, she needed to cover her head for the picture. She asked me to email her the picture I took of her with Benaiah. The little old lady in the other photo just couldn't get enough of Benaiah. He was sound asleep, yet she continued to bounce him and say, "Shh shh shh." So sweet! When I see women like her, I always think, "They are just like us...sweet little old Granny's in the family." Going to the Turkish hamam is an adventure, will get your body softer than any spa treatment, and is a bargain at only about US$10. If you come visit me, I'll take you.


Melanie Keffer said...

And just what is it you are missing in the US? Walgreens??? :))

I had to tease you a little there. What a great experience. I think I'd trade in Walgreens and Walmart for a hamam any day of the week.

It is wonderful that you can trust people with your children. That is something I have always wondered about. What a wonderful experience! What a great adventure you and your family are living.


Anonymous said...

Okay, count me in. That sounds heavenly. Glad you got to enjoy that experience!

Sara Campbell said...

It really does blow me away at how many things I enjoy about living in this culture! There are hard days, but a day in the hamam would not be one of them! Yes, I am serious, any of you that come can go with me. But I may make you jump in the cold pool just so you can say you did it once!

Melanie Keffer said...

I think modesty would hold me back from enjoying such a great experience. :) Swimsuit or not, I would have a hard time with the topless aunties. :) But aren't the different customs fascinating? I can see why you are blown away. I love hearing about your "adventures." You are much bravier than I'd be!!!


Greg and Allison then came Four said...

Love reading your blog! Sounds wonderful!

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