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Why You Probably Shouldn’t Get a Discount Massage in a Foreign Country

In a lot of ways, being broke is about picking and choosing where to spend your money.  Maybe you shop your dad’s closet, but pay $13 at the independent movie theater every week.  Maybe you eat $2 dumplings year round, but blow your wad on cool vacations a couple of times a year.  However, in my opinion, some things are always worth the splurge.  Like massages.  When you’re on vacation.  In Morocco, with your two girlfriends.  Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way.  Read on to find out how what was supposed to be a relaxing “spa day with the girls” turned into a tale of humiliation, curry mud, and shimmying.

We met our “masseuse” in the lobby of the cheap hotel where we booked our service. She was covered head-to-toe in black robes and motioned for us to follow her, which we did– out of the hotel lobby and into the streets of Marrakesh, where we struggled to keep up with her amidst a flood of chickens, snake charmers, and monkey handlers (it’s a touristy city that tries it’s hardest to model itself after Disney’s Aladdin).  She led us into the basement of a dilapidated building, where we were met by a bunch of naked ladies doing that Xena, Warrior Princess battle cry.  She motioned us past them, and into an empty, tiled room, where she left us.

When she returned, we were wearing our bathing suits.  Our new friend, on the other hand, was sporting nothing but a pair of sheer underpants.  That’s right, she went from H-to-T robes to indecent exposure before we even got a chance to properly introduce ourselves!  She proceeded to chase us around, throwing buckets of cold water on us and shouting, “Off!  Off!” until we finally doffed the rest of our clothing, and– shivering and trying not to look at each other– gave ourselves over to Miss Sheer Panties.

The events that followed will be emblazoned in my memory until the end of time–I only barely feel that I just washed their pungent smells off of me.  First, MSP covered each of us with slime, and washed it off by throwing buckets of of cold water on us again.  The slime bath was followed by about a bottle and a half of dog shampoo on each of our heads (at least I now feel confident that I will never have fleas!) and a rub down with mud that smelled like curry.  Slathered in mud and emanating chana masala fumes, she gave us some oranges to eat and left the room again.

About two hours later, MSP still hadn’t returned.  The embarrassment of our nakedness had long worn off, but now my friends and I were just bored.  After playing with a stray kitten that had wandered into the room, we washed the curry mud off of us and started to gather our belongings to leave.  Just as we finished grabbing our things, we heard a bellowing “No!” in the doorway behind us.  There she was– Miss Sheer Panties, still in her sheer panties, natch– blocking our exit, barring us from getting home to rinse the flea shampoo out of our hair.

We told her that we would pay her.  We told her that she did not have to finish her services (shudder, whatever those may be).  MSP simply wasn’t having it.  Tears rolled down her cheeks as she continuously shook her head and repeated, “please, please,” while kissing my friends’ and my foreheads and hugging our still-naked bodies, bare breasts to bare stomach (she was a voluptuous lady who had tatas of the pendulum variety).  Seeing that she was not going to let us go until she finished what she started, we once again reluctantly gave in to the mysteries of see-through bikini-cuts.

I had never had a massage before, but I thought that it would be like you see in the movies– on a padded table, with some aromatherapy candles and maybe Pure Moods going on a portable CD player.  This was not the case with my budget Moroccan massage.  Instead of a massage table, I climbed up onto a tiled counter like the one you might have in your kitchen, and was oiled up while my two friends stood by and watched.  At one point, MSP started shimmying her pendulum breasts and singing her best rendition of “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.”  At another, she put her thumb someplace it never should have gone.  After she had her merry way with me, I moved to the other end of the counter while my pals received Sloppy Seconds and Terrible Thirds.

A “deluxe massage” for the equivalent of $20?!  Sounds like a deal, right?  While my budget Moroccan massage experience is worth a bar of gold and some diamonds in the storytelling department, I was never quite the same after being thumbed and shimmied at while my two friends stood five feet away.  Hey, if that’s your thing.  If not, maybe book your foreign spa services someplace classy where the water is at least room temperature and the shampoo is meant for humans.  Like I said, some things are meant to be splurged on– decide if you want your spa experience to be more Club Med, or Club Dread.

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Carrie Laven - Pretty Penniless

Carrie Laven - Pretty Penniless

Carrie Laven is a natural-born storyteller from California, but she
lives in New York now. She likes dogs, nail art, and Mexican food,
but mostly she likes scoring sweet deals at thrift stores. She tends
to have a flair for the dramatic.


  1. Heidi Smith - The Ultimate Scavenger
    October 5, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I once got a $5 massage in Budapest by a guy that looked like Fabio and had hands so strong that he could probably crush a can in an instant. I could barely contain myself when he flipped me over like a pancake and massaged my front side also —- I mean hey, for just $5 I was sleazily seduced by a hot foreign macho man … and I have to admit, I kinda liked it. Sorry to say Carrie, your experience sounds a whole lot grosser!

  2. Leyli- The Terrible Third Friend
    October 5, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    You failed to mention:
    1) We left the establishment lubed the f up.
    2) The Hammam experience had been highly recommended by an Australian with no decency in Portugal.
    3) This experience was preceded by an equally uncomfortable experience with a little strange Moroccan sprite named Hassan in the streets of Tangiers. To be followed by Casablanca, involving “Robocop” and McArab sandwiches.
    4) Before this trip, the three of us were almost strangers.

  3. Carrie Laven - Pretty Penniless
    October 12, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Heidi– my friend had a similar experience in Budpest!! I love a man with strong hands, so a front-massage by a faux Fabio would maybe (secretly) be somewhat enjoyable.

    Leyli– How do I truly capture what we went through in 700 words or less? My favorite part of the whole experience– and the part that I think was the most uncomfortable for all of us– was when you were getting your Terrible Thirds at one end of the counter while Marie and I had to lie next to each other at the other end, on a space that was about 2.5 feet wide, after just having been lubed up and shimmied at. Writing out this story was like a catharsis for me– now I can stop having PTSD about it!! PS– I hope you’re serious about that First Wives Club reunion in NYC this Spring!!

  4. berber ayouz
    January 23, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    You add more action in your story,,,if you think you are in a better situation that you have good shampoo …you should not make fun of such maybe poor lady trying to offer this help in hamam with her humbel things that she can do for you… there are highly nice Sauna/hamam here with professional services,you just liked to go to a cheap one and then you tell you experience to show us you as the hero of all that…. why you just remember bad side..i think you do not see nothing for your visit here that is because you do not read before,you need read about one place before visiting it,to have a great and adventurous travel,,,one more thing,the travel in which everything went ok is not a travel,but the travel we remember is the one we have some action,at least you have some stories to tell your grandchildren 😀 welcome to Morocco,,here are many amazing places to see,the county with amazing climate,you can be in the beach “Agadir” ,driving 3 hours you be in mountain with snow “Techka”,driving few hours you be in desert with sea of dunes ” Zagora”,, for the services read about hotels you are going or small Riad….

    best wishes from Morocco
    Peace and love