Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hammam Mia!!

Do you all remember my post about the Korean Spa experience?  Well let me tell you I have discovered a treatment that is on steroids compared; meaning it is far superior. I am not casting any dispersions on those that run the Wi Spa or any other type of healing treatment centers in the USA at all because in L.A. Wi Spa is a small slice of heaven.

However if you are ever in Morocco it is imperative that you try the Hammam.  Yes it sounds just like it reads pronounced [HAM-MAM].  Allow me to explain, in Moroccan culture the hammam is vital for both men, women and children.  It is a cleansing ritual that is also a social experience primarily in the public hammams.  I chose to attend a hammam in the Riad across the alley from where I am staying because it is more private.  Of course men and women bathe separately. And if you have any inhibitions about nudity the hammam is not for you.  You are escorted to a locker with a key for you to change into only a disposable undergarment. You are not granted privacy for changing either, the women stand with you while you change, [I guess to minimize the dawdling] and once you are ready you are escorted into a wet room with full steam - quite lovely - and then you either sit or lay on the bench made of stone or wood depending on the hammam.  A woman  runs hot water into a small tub and then uses a small bowl dips it into the tub of water and tosses it all over your body face head and all.  When I say "hot" I mean bathwater hot, hotter than tepid but not boiling.  And when I say "toss" it's not disrespectful like throwing water in your face or throwing water at you from a bowl, it's a pouring motion with a lot of enthusiasm.  It's almost like watching an animal or vehicle get cleaned.  I don't liken myself to an animal or a car but I do understand.  At this point I also get why you are given the disposable panty.  Your regular underwear would not survive a hammam.

Once you are drenched the woman rubs every inch of your body with black soap.  And then leaves you alone for about 20 minutes or so and increases the steam for the black soap to absorb into your skin.  After 20 minutes or so the woman then douses your body again to wash the soap off your body.  Then if you are sitting she asks you to lay down on your stomach to begin to rub/massage a black powder exfoliant on your legs and back and then you flip over onto your back where she rubs your front down with the same exfoliant.  Once again she leaves you this time for a bit longer like 30 minutes so the exfoliate that becomes a muddy substance can absorb into your skin with the steam.  She was being polite, gently putting some mud on my cheeks, chin and forehead before she stepped out.  Funny thing is once I was alone again, I made a mad dash for the bowl slathering the muddy exfoliant all over my face like a crazy person.  I know the benefits of African black soap so now that I know it comes is a spa grade powder form I went for it.  YES I looked like Martin Sheen [photo #1] in the rising out of water scene from Apocolypse Now.  Or Jaguar Paw played by Rudy Youngblood [photo #2] from Apocolypto.  But I didn't care.  I am in Africa being pampered by my people.
  
(Photos courtesy of Google)

The final step of hammam is either a 30 or 60 minute massage immediately after the bath.  The only product used to for the massage portion of the treatment [which includes foot reflexology massage and a head massage] is Argan Oil.

After the hammam my skin felt clean, soft and new.  Argan oil gets completely absorbed into your skin and hair so it never trails on or stains your clothing.  What one is encouraged to do after your hammam is to relax with a cup of Moroccan tea.  Hot herb tea with crushed fresh mint leaves and sugar cubes.  After my hammam at noon, I met up with a few locals for Moroccan tea and small conversation, did nothing really motivating for the rest of the day just chilled!  I'm writing about this on day two and my skin [all over] is still as soft an new as yesterday.  My legs, knees and elbows are not scaly dry and my face is glowing, it's crazy.

Now you know I took no photos of my first hammam so enjoy the slide show here of what it looks like to hammam. What a revelation of a tradition dating back thousands of years.  The cost in USD only $30.00, and a little more for an hour massage.  In America this treatment would cost hundreds of dollars, having to pay separately for all services.  And yes I will be back each week for a hammam until I return home.  "When in Rome..."  To put it simply, there is just no other way to bathe. I should have called this post Hammam-lujah!!!!  

Here is a closing visual of what hammam is kinda like in a comical way, remember the scene in Coming to America when the slave girl says to Eddie Murphy's character, "The royal penis is clean your highness" ? Well... I'm just sayin' ...


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Sitar - A cup of Joe on me!

Don't worry everyone, yes this post is all about coffee but I promise that I'm not going to let you experience any Deja-Poo whatsoever. What's Deja-Poo?  You know... the feeling that you've heard this crap before... nope that's not what this post is about :-). Well let's start off by listing a few stereotypes about coffee drinkers about which you may or may not be familiar:

  1. It will stunt your growth.  Uhhhh, do kids actually drink coffee?  If not what is the stunt risk with adults, personality or character growth?  Hum not sure about that one.
  2. It causes heart disease and cancer.  Actually recent studies from the Mayo Clinic have shown that there is no connection between coffee and increased risk of heart disease or cancer.  Especially since related studies indicated that the habit of smokers combined with coffee and people with other high risk behaviors do have an increased risk.  So coffee is not the fall guy here either.
  3. Coffee drinkers are arrogant.  Now that's funny.
Okay, I am not a coffee drinker and I never really have been.  I love coffee flavored ice cream and coffee flavored hard candy but that's about the extent of my coffee experience.  I never actually liked the idea of it because growing up in grade school every teacher I had [who drank coffee] in the morning had horribly bad breath. When I got to junior high, my parent friends would talk about their need/cravings for coffee to get them right. In fact I recall some of them saying that without it jitters and head aches would soon follow.  Even as a 6 through 12 year old, I knew that FOR ME keeping one's sexy did not include the regimen of morning coffee. Why would any cute boy like a girl with coffee breath?  So needless to say that coffee and I would never build a life together, but I digress...
Papua Cinnamon Coffee.
(photo courtesy of drinkpapua.com)
Today, as a beverage enthusiast, I am a total tea person but have recently become curious about coffee and it's actual affects and side affects of lore.  I often receive coffee and bottles of wine as gifts around the holidays.  My freezer has been stocked with packs of ground coffee for months so when I had a conversation with Mareeka [you recall that post about my favorite vegan speak easy], about the beverage that I don't consume she educated me about a brand that she swears by as a health practitioner.  And since many of you drink coffee, I felt obligated to share. The brand is called Papua.

What makes Papua unique and different from Dunkin Doughnuts, Starbucks and other brands is that it is Alkalizing, Non-Dehydrating, and Detoxifying. One more thing it is Delicious, according to testimonies on their web site.

(Papua New Guinea independent state flag)
I personally love that it is Rain Forrest Alliance Certified, organically grown, and is not based upon a large corporately owned plantation. It is also certified Kosher. Papua is grown in thousands of small coffee villages in Papua New Guinea that produce over 70% of the annual exportable crop.  

Since I am no coffee connoisseur, I cannot attest to it being "delicious." It just tastes like coffee to me. And I do like the flavor of coffee, but delicious compared to what? Other brands?  I've never had coffee from Starbucks, Dunkin Doughnuts or any other place in my life.

However after each cup of Papua, and I've had several in preparation for this blog post, I can confirm that my breath was not offensive in any way.  I can only guess that the bad breath side affect is because of animal milk as creamer, granulated sugar, artificial sweeteners.  I tasted the Papua both with and without sweetener.  The roast recommended to me was the dark and medium roast blend so that is what I tried. What I can say is that freshly brewed it tastes smooth and smokey, not bad at all for a morning beverage.
During my second cup I added natural sweetener, no creamer.  I used Eco-BeeCo which is the only sweetener I keep in my house.  As a reforming sugar person I swear by this product [that I'll write about in a forthcoming post.] After drinking Papua, I did not experience head aches or jitters. I admit that I enjoyed both cups very much. But for the coffee drinkers here is more interesting facts about the Papua flavor taken right from the website:

"Papua’s unique flavor and delightful aroma has its origins in the world-renowned Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee plants, which were transported to Papua New Guinea in 1927. The beloved traditional flavors from this original plant line were embellished with floral and fruity hints from the new environment, giving rise to a coffee that is truly exceptional.

We selected the best Arabica beans, grown naturally and farmed without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides. Because it is grown in high altitudes, unlike its flavorless counterpart Robusta, Arabica is a much higher quality coffee bean and has been consistently selected for the European and Japanese markets.

Papua’s unique flavor and delightful aroma has its origins in the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee plants, which are known to yield the world’s most celebrated coffee. These gourmet beans and the rare Peaberry are roasted exclusively to satisfy the connoisseur. We offer the greatest variety of roasts, grinds and spiced organic coffee."

In closing, both fitness and health professionals highly recommend Papua coffee to their clients for its benefits that you can read about here.  In fact if any of you all are willing to I am putting on a challenge.  I am giving away a pack of Papua coffee and a pack of Eco-BeeCo to one of you coffee drinkers who leaves a comment for me.  After I read all comments I will pick and announce the winner.  All entries/comments must be entered by December 1st, 2013.

Rules:

  • If you subscribe to my blog you receive this post in the form of an email.  
  • Responding to the email that you receive does not constitute a legitimate comment.  
  • The rule is that YOU MUST LOG ONTO www.strokeofliving.blogspot.com and leave a comment at the end of this post in the "Comments section" and the person whose comment is the most unique to me will win both the Papua coffee and a pouch of Eco-BeeCo.  
  • Anonymous entries will be disqualified.  
  • I must know who you are to set up delivery of the prize if you win.  
  • Do not post any personal info in your comment like a phone number or address. 
  • ONLY POST YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS if you think I don't have it. 
  • This is a global blog so your comment is not confidential to me anyone can read it.  
  • That being said, I will contact the winner directly before I post who the winner is and will communicate with that person via email to receive your delivery info.

Let's close the year with something fun!  Rev up and start your engines...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday Sitar - Three things

Poet and author Maya Angelou has said many brilliant things, but my recent favorite is the following.


(photo courtesy of www.krcb.com)
"It has been said that we need just three things in life: Something to do, Something to look forward to and Someone to love."  This the ultimate bucket list.

Something to do - Based on my interest to [and often call to] write about my past and current experiences pre and post stroke, I often have something to do.  Resulting in this blog you all know that about me.  I am freelancing now so add that to my check list.

Something to look forward to - Given my prolonged holiday [the first in over 10 years] for months, I had something to look forward to.  I have met so many new friends in mother Africa I will have this on my check list for the rest of my life.  Having a connection to the African contentment is something that can not be described.  I can only liken it to when folks tell you that after becoming a parent how no one can describe the love you will feel toward that baby.  Well if you are a black American, an you've traveled to the mother land, no one can describe how it feels to be there.  No one can ever ask you to share enough about it, no one can ever vicariously experience it, and no one can EVER take it from you!

Someone to love - Well we always search for this right?  God is always at the top of this spiritual list.  Regarding the carnal list our family counts here.  Our friends count when we are in harmony.  However regarding matters of the heart - a lover, a companion, a spouse, the person with whom we choose to procreate, this is the ultimate search.  Who will love us for all of our unlovable and fabulous traits, habits, thoughts?  There is a notion that there is someone for everyone on the planet.  With 7 billion people on the planet now, truer words have never been spoken. In fact I think that there is more than one person depending where we are geographically.  The question is when, who, how and for how long?  Don't obsess just relax and let those anxious thoughts go from you.

It tickles me that God Winks during the most bizarre but perfect times in my life.  Coincidences happen to me [and to us all] to remind us that we are on the path of our unique lives.  Nothing happens by chance, no one comes into our lives haphazardly.  When we are on an airplane, on the street, in class, at church, and on the job things happen ans we encounter people for a very specific reason.  None of us are exempt.

ALL OF US have purpose.

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