Every day in Morocco brings a surprise of some sort. The question is not if, nor is it when. The question is “what?” Just how shocking is today’s surprise going to be.
It was all about hair removal today. For women, I think it is fair to say that along with having to protect ourselves from unwanted touching, catcalling and raping, paradoxically we have to go through ungodly measures to make ourselves more “palatable” to those who may touch us appropriately or so that we can feel “pretty.” Talk about getting the proverbial shaft from both sides of the aisle.
I was not raised in a family of primpers. We are farm folk. I never once entered any sort of spa-like treatment room until I was long gone from my mothers’ loving gaze. To her I was perfect. What more could be done? Oh the good old days.
I was blessed with an abundance of soft, barely seen and baby like facial hair. Nothing unsightly thank goodness but over the years it’s always been something to think about and possibly address when all other things had been thought about and addressed.
Recently I decided I would pursue electrolysis at some point, for the permanent smooth skin look. I’m not one for constant maintenance. I’d rather pay dearly one time and move on with my life. But alas, I don’t stay in one place long enough for return visits. And I also sort of stopped caring to be honest.
But recently in Marrakech, I went to a new French place, just for women, delightful French owner. While having a manicure I was stunned by the beautiful, hair bare skin of the technician. So I enquired of the owner who absolutely speaks some English, if limited. That’s important to note. “It’s the result of threading,” she said. WOW! I vowed to come back, thrilled to have finally found a place in Marrakech that does threading.
Now it must be understood that when it comes to threading as a means of hair removal, I have had a total of ONE experience in my life. A few friends are avid fans and had great results. I had heard of a place near my home in Canada that people “came to from away.” So it must be good if they travel to get there. I had never been. One day my friend Sandra said, “let’s go together, it doesn’t take long.” Quick. Simple. Cheap. Effective. Love it!
Here’s what happened. I was thrown down on a nominally padded faux leather bench in a small room with the door open. Sweating like a farm animal because it’s summer and we practically ran there. This angry Thai woman who speaks NO English “had at ‘er” with a spool of heavy gauge thread, to my face. I fully expected blood and bruising afterwards. It hurt like a thousand tiny bee stings and a few hearty open handed slaps.
In the end it was in fact cheap, sort of cheerful, and effective. In and out in 30 min, $15 lighter and only marginally traumatized. OK, it was a little violent. But I think we can all agree that whenever hair is ripped from the body by its follicles, the word violent needs to be on the list of adjectives. Every time.
So I mentally prepared myself for my threading appointment. I had no clue what was going to happen, but like everything else here I thought it might be different. Who knows. My motto as you know is “ expect the unexpected” and I tend to just let go of all control and see what happens. The more you try and control any situation, the more limited the results I find. So I went with an open mind.
Upon arriving at the salon I was introduced to Sahar. No English. Nancy, the owner, pointed to two shelves full of product (?), and said, “this one is French and common, this one is French and very fancy”. I did not really know why I needed all this cream for the treatment but OK. Maybe its a numbing cream, or a soothing cream. I’m down. And of course I chose the fancy one. Because, have you met me? Always choose fancy.
Nancy told me to sit down because Sahar was going to “prepare the cabin,” she said. WOW. That IS fancy. Sahar came and got me a few minutes later and we went downstairs to my treatment “cabin”. Nancy was hovering at the door and words were said. I said “Oh don’t worry, I understand a little bit of French and some Darija.” In mind this means “stand up and sit down”, but I was later to learn it would unleash a rapid explanation of the whole process. Didn’t catch a WORD of it. Well, one word. I got one word.
She tells me to take off my top. Ok. I guess. Little weird but whatever, maybe there is some cream spreading involved. Then she tells me to take off my bra. UM. Ok. No offer to leave the room, no offer of a towel to cover up. It’s Morocco. Take it off and lie down. I did make her ask three times though, so we were clear. You see my friend Paul had an awkward undergarment removal situation in Japan and since then I know at least 6 people who triple check before removing clothes in a foreign country.
So I lie down and she starts to pile on the blankets like I’m heading off on a sleigh ride. It’s freaking HOT in here Sahar. Enough with the blankets. We settle in and she tells me, in super fast French, that she is going to do something, but only to one side of my face, then I will look and then she will do the other side of my face. The last word she said was BOTOX. Loud and clear. I vow only to speak up if I see a needle. Because, no. Not today. No needles.
So I lie back and she starts to apply a cream. I think “Wow, this is like a full on facial experience.” “Nice.” “This is lovely with all the cream, its warm, it smells nice.” She’s massaging some muscles that were very sore from yesterday’s surprise (more later).
Then I think, “Well isn’t this damn lovely. I thought this was going to hurt but it’s a lovely treat. Damn it, I deserve this nice little respite.”
And THEN I think ……”Oooooooo I’m a Princess, I’m a Princess.”
Then I start to laugh out loud because my mind was being funny. I tried to explain to Sahar in the totally silent room that I was laughing because my mind is spinning ….. oh nothing.
So this goes on for quite some time. There are many different creams and oils and goos applied and massaged in. She then puts something sticky on my face and I think “oh this is the threading part, but it’s not threading at all. Maybe the other things were depilatory creams to loosen the follicles. Boy, its hard to know what to expect without all the Western marketing words to fill you in.” Then she starts to sort of pull at my skin in quick little upward movements. “This is it I suppose, wow. There is no bright light or anything, she must be pretty confident she is covering everything.”
At the half way mark she sat me up and showed me a mirror. OK. It’s dark and my face looks shiny so I guess it’s good. I can’t really inspect anything. “My eye looks amazing. I look like a new person. Holy crap the other side of my face looks like my mother. Snap snap get on the rest of it before anyone sees how bad I look on that side!” I guess I am getting a little bit of facial “lift” as an added bonus. That is so great. So fancy.
She repeats the same thing on the other side. More things put on my skin, rubbed off, massaged in. I am reminded of a sound studio that I went to at Disney once. You sit in a booth, in complete darkness, and listen to sounds through speakers at different locations around you. A whole story unfolds with only sound props. It was really cool. This is like that. I have NO IDEA what is happening but bottles are opened and lids are snapped shut. Something is stirred, then put down. A bottle is lifted, silence, then set down again. She put something clay-like on my skin and I said “Oh chocolate.” It smelled amazing. She replied, “Non, non, cucumber.” And I think “Ok, lets split the difference on that and pretend you said cocoa.”
At this point she goes off to her table of potions and I looked over to see what was happening and “OH MY GOD IS THAT A NEEDLE?????” I watch in horror, then relief as she withdrawals a serum from a large vial and then dispenses it on a cotton pad. The pad was then placed over and under my eyes. “Ok that’s nice.” But I really just wanted some threading. Oh well. “I wonder how much this is going to cost?” “Do I even have any money with me?” “I have money, but not enough, damn. I’ll just use my credit card. No problem.” “How much am I going to have to tip this magician?”
Just before I get all washed off at the end, she leaves me to “soak” in some sort of goo and I hear her writing something. “WHAT the F*$k?” “Am I being graded?” “Are you writing up notes on how I performed as a patient?” “Do I have a file here?” “Are you going to give me a note for the emergency room in case I react to something?” Then, “Why do humans get so freaked out when someone takes a note in their presence.” “Is she going to give me that note or keep it? In what language is it?” ” I can’t give it someone to translate, what if its highly personal? How embarrassing.” I start running through the list of suitable people who I might trust with this information. She slips the note under my phone and I sneak a peek. Oh just a long list of serums used in case I want to buy some for home use. Phew.
I get up, get dressed, fix my hair. I look in the mirror. I look AMAZING. Truly fantastic. WOW. That was a really pleasant unexpected wonderful treatment. It didn’t hurt at all. Way better than the beating I took from the Thai woman at home. Holy crap! I’m hooked. This is the way to go.
Off I skip (again, not really, because of yesterday) upstairs to pay. Nancy tells me the treatment was just 1,000 dhs. $134 Canadian. Not bad really considering what happened. I wander over to the shelves and look closer at the labels. One is labeled…….”placenta.” Uh…………………who’s placenta now??????? Anyway, it’s done and it was lovely. No wonder the French look so beautiful, some of the time.
So that was todays surprise. This runs in STARK contrast to yesterdays surprise which went like this ….. I was skipping off to the gym, and found myself needing to cross the road. My mind was a little far away because I had been texting and walking, and also because my mind was very active with thoughts. Crossing the street in Morocco however, I put my phone down and don’t cross until I’m fully present. Its policy.
So I am about to cross a really busy street. I look left, wait for a clear spot and make my way to the middle line. Standard procedure is to just get to the middle of the road safely and then work out the second side. This means fully focusing on the oncoming traffic and look for weirdos, donkeys, and scooters. I do this. As I approach the middle, I turn to look right and realize it’s really clear so I speed things up to “dart” the rest of the way.
This is when my toe comes into full contact with a raised protrusion, and I start to teeter forward. Fast. Phone goes flying and lands face down. Water bottle goes flying. I come to the full realization at one point that I am running parallel to the road, with nothing touching earth, and it’s not going to end well. I land. HARD.
Pretty shaken, I roll over to see if I am in traffic. Safe? In imminent danger? What? I get myself up, grab my phone, move to the safety of the curb, and bend over with hands on knees as my brain matter settles back into place. I look around to see if “anyone noticed”. First of all, yes. I am in direct eye line of two cafes. And secondly, I am a blonde foreign woman who just hurtled through space and landed face first on concrete. Yes, people noticed. Did anyone do anything? Well no. They stopped. Stared. That was it.
So, I start walking towards the gym. I’ve been doing a lot of work to get myself back into the gym routine lately. Whenever anything unexpected happens in life, I like to examine it for the message. A month ago the message would have been, “Kathi. Slow the hell down. Pay attention. Go home, go to bed and try again tomorrow.” But no. I am a warrior princess. I took it as a sign that the Universe was asking “are you REALLY committed to this gym thing?” And I said “SCREW YOU UNIVERSE. I’m here to do the work. Outta my way.” It wasn’t until afterwards that I realized my knee was pretty bruised and stiff.
It should be noted that as a direct result of these events the following statements are true.
1 – The Universe was actually telling me to check my travel insurance which expired two weeks ago without notice. Had I been run over by a donkey or broken a wrist, I would have been sans coverage.
2 – Upon close inspection at home I found that not one single hair was extracted from face today. I apparently had a lovely and rather extravagant facial. Epilation was not involved.
I’m not even kidding.