Marrakech is one of those places where a rub and tug is almost obligatory. If you haven't been scrubbed and lathered and sweated and twisted in a hammam, then you haven't really been to Morocco.
This trip I visited two - the luxury Hammam at the fancy hotel (thanks Céline) and a 'public' hammam in the medina. Both were very different to each other. Although the routine is pretty much the same in both - sweat in the steam room, scrub down with black soap, lather up, rinse, rinse, rinse, massage, inappropriate touching, rinse, leave.
Yes, I did say inappropriate touching.
For those of you who are a little sensitive of nature, I suggest you stop reading now and wait until I post something a little less, erm, intimate.
Right, so you're all still with me, then?
In the luxury hammam at the hotel, all was going swimmingly. The gommage - black soap thing - was amazing, the lather and rinse was wonderful and revitalising. As I lay down to get massaged, I started to truly relax.
Now, let's just set the scene here. I've undergone all of the above procedure naked, and now I'm lying on my back, on a slab of hot marble, à poils, being rubbed down with oils by a handsome, nearly naked, hairy Moroccan.
His massage starts well. He pays attention to my trouble spots (shoulders, neck, lower back) and I'm starting to drift off. He then moves to my lower body.
He works his way up both legs, rubbing as he goes. He massages my inner thighs. It's unbelievably good.
He opens my legs as wide as they'll go and sits between them, one leg one each shoulder.
I sense trouble.
Before I know what has happened, my prostate is being massaged - from within - and I'm lay there with my eyes closed, a smile on my face and, yes, a big old erection. It all took me so by surprise that I didn't really have time to think about kittens, poor people or anything else that makes my ardour die off. I had no choice. I was flying the flag for England in this poor man's face.
I figured he'd seen it all before though, so just relaxed and hoped it'd fade away of its own volition.
Unfortunately, his choice of 'next place to massage' didn't help it die away. Well, it did finally subside - but not in a way that left me with any dignity or self respect.
As the masseur rinsed his hands (oversharing, I know - sorry) he told me that I should think about giving him a big tip. I thought that's what I'd just given him to be honest.
The public Hammam was a different experience, but again it all kicked off during the massage.
This time the masseur was a stocky, well-built Moroccan guy who could have played for the national rugby team had there ever been such a thing.
As he rubbed away at my lower back, he made sure to place my hand in such a way that I had 'something to play with' whilst he got on with his job. I never had toys like that as a boy, trust me. Gosh.
Again, he finished the job with a winning smile and took me off to the showers to rinse off the oil.
I took off my loincloth - for such is obligatory in the public hammam - and headed under the tepid stream of water.
So did he.
Yes, he joined me in the shower.
As he soaped me down, I'm afraid that my loins got the better of me again - but then, as luck would have it, so did his. And he had no problem with asking me to get him into a lather.
A big tip later, I left the public hammam unsure of what to do on the last day of the trip. We'd committed to a hammam a day and there was still sunday to go.
Le FP wanted to return to the public hammam. I wanted to go to the hotel spa again. We both went our separate ways with a promise to meet up back at the hotel.
And boy did we meet up at the hotel. After our hammam experiences, we both seemed to be in the mood for a spot of pre-flight delight. I'm sure I can stop the tale there....