Turkish Baths

Trip Start Mar 04, 2007
Trip End Jun 15, 2007

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Flag of Palestinian Territory  ,
Sunday, March 25, 2007

Time stands still in a Turkish Bath.  I had no idea how long I had been there nor how long I would be until finished.
It all started when Maysa invited her mother Asma to go to the Turkish Baths for a Mother's Day gift. (Mother's Day is the first day of spring in Ramallah and flowers are everywhere.)  Then they invited me to join them for the experience.
It was the first time for all of us and we headed off on Sunday afternoon.  You start in the steam room where at times you literally can hardly see the person sitting next to you.  We began talking to the other women there and when they found out I was from the US they were very interested in me.  Next thing I know, the other group is singing and dancing, Palestinian style, to welcome me. Then they started trying to give everyone a turn - including me having my first lesson in a form of belly dancing.  I can't even imagine what I must have looked like as I tried in my shorts and t-shirt and too big sandals.  I sure can't shake my hips like they can and their arm movements are so graceful.
Then it was off to the cold pool for the plunge (I skipped it) and then to the sauna.  The process was repeated once again before the peel (where they scrub off all the dead skin) and then it was time to rest on the Bedouin cushions before the massage (I must admit I took a short nap here.)
Then I had my first real massage and I feel so relaxed!
I would not have passed up this afternoon for anything - meeting other people who welcomed me even though I am from the United States and my taxes help pay for the wall.  Once again Arabic hospitality went above what I have seen in my life--being able to see the person rather than the stereotype and including me in their culture.
As I lay on the cushions, dozing in and out, the same women who danced and sang with me in the steam room were dressed in long dresses with head scarves, kneeling in prayer on their prayer rugs they had brought. Our God is a big God.
The final part of the day was dinner that Asma had prepared - chicken and rice! Yum!
A day I'm sure I'll never forget.
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