I love an authentic Turkish bath, but I could have done without the waterboarding experience…
My Waterboarding Experience In Jordan…In A Turkish Bath
Waterboarding is a form of torture in which water is poured over a cloth covering the face and breathing passages of an immobilized captive, causing the person to experience the sensation of drowning. It was used by the USA (in CIA black sites including Jordan) after the 9/11 attacks in an effort to make captured alleged terrorists talk.
After over 20 miles of hiking through Petra, I was quite tired and thought a Turkish bath experience would be relaxing. The town of Wadi Musa, outside the gates of Petra in Jordan, features a number of spas that offer the full Turkish bath or hammam experience.
I found one at a rate of 20JOD for an hour and made an appointment for 5:00 pm. After enjoying a cup of tea in the waiting room, I was escorted into the changing room, given swimming trunks to put on, then led into a steam room where I sat for about 20 minutes.
After that, I was led into a large room that was also full of steam and directed to lie down on a hot marble stone slab like the one pictured at the top of this story. A washcloth-sized towel was placed over my eyes. There, the Turkish bath would take place (where a guy essentially scrubs and massages you).
This wasn’t my first Turkish bath experience, but what I didn’t experience was that the dude would pour a bucket of water over my face to start the “bath.”
And suddenly I realized how scary waterboarding is. Water filled in my nose and mouth. I could not breathe. I sat up and gasped, choking for breath. Trust me, I’m not exaggerating when I say it was one of the most unpleasant experiences I have ever had.
The guy did not speak English, but patted me a couple of times on the back and then pushed me back down. Over the next 30 minutes, he poured several additional buckets of water over my face, but going forward placed his hand over my nose and mouth (which also was not a very pleasant experience…) before doing so.
I don’t really feel like getting into the ethics of waterboarding here, but goodness that is a horrible feeling. I cannot imagine being subjected to that over and over and would probably tell anyone anything to make it stop. I love a Turkish bath experience, but will make it very clear next time that if water is going to be dumped on my face, I better be warned first.