The other day before our Italian friend Claudio left, Fouad took us to the Hammam,the Arab baths. The Hammam is a public building that is not far from the Souidi home. There is not a western style shower here and so we tend to take baths with water heated on the fire or on the stove and then using soap and it is very important to scrub the skin.
Muslims are suppossed to pray five times per day and ablution is required each time. This consists of washing the hands, feet, face, ears, nostrils, and arms. So people tend to be very clean even without the western shower.
In addition, when one showers with the bucket, you are suppossed to use an abrasive glove to scrub the skin. People here find it odd that one would simply lather up with soap, rinse, and repeat. Instead, you should scrub the skin until it is almost painful.
But, back to the Hammam. The Hammam is used by both sexes but at different times of the day. It is composed of four large rooms, a dressing room, and rooms of various steam intensity. The family was very concerned for us before we went and told us that we should take no money, talk to no one, and not hire the man to scrub us in the baths but instead to let Fouad take care of us.
This concern is touching, if also a bit smothering, but since my Arabic is bad, and since they have seen foreigners get in trouble, and since their concern comes from the heart, I accept it and deal with the smothering until such a time as I can demonstrate my ability to survive encounters with locals.