When It Rains, Set Your Balls on Fire

Bukhara, Uzbekistan, on Thursday, October 23, 2014.

While it rains, I head to the ancient indoors of Bozori Kord, a 16th-century Bukharan hammam. Light peers through the skylight to illuminate the stone and brick work that looks centuries old (because it is) and that’s part of the charm. History aside, Bokori Kord is still a proper hammam for men in the mornings and co-ed (in separate rooms) during the rest of the day.

If you haven’t been to a hammam, it’s a traditional bath and spa house found in many Islamic countries where you go to the steam room to open your pores, before a man scrubs you down with a loofah. My sun-baked skin exfoliates right off, and then I’m soaped up and rinsed off to wait my turn for the massage.

Massages in a hammam are like a one-sided Olympic wrestling match. I lay on a marble slab, and my masseur not only massages my back, neck, and appendages with very strong pressure, but stretches and contorts me to my limits. He walks and stomps on my back in specific spots so I get really good audible cracks. He only knows a few English words to tell me want to do: sit, stand, turn (over). But all I can say is “Aaaahhhhaahhaahh” when he folds my arms behind my back to the point where I think something might snap.

He rinses me off after the wrestling session, and rubs some wet sand on my joints. He instructs me with body language, to rub some on my genitals. I think it’s weird that I need to exfoliate my scrotum, but when in Rome…

I sit in a steamy room to relax, but soon realize that wasn’t just sand. Spider-sense, tingling. Later I learn it’s ground ginger that acts like Icy Hot, which is why he applied it to my joints. Before I know it, the ginger reacts in my boxer briefs, and my balls are on FIRE. It’s like that scene in “Revenge of the Nerds” when the Tri-Lams put Liquid Heat in the jocks’… jocks.

The masseur is attending another person so it takes a long twenty minutes before he can extinguish me. Another man shampoos my hair and lathers me up again for a second washing, following my a warm and relieving rinse.

Cups of tea follows, and then I get dressed a squeaky clean new man — just in time because the sun starts to come out.

Rainy morning in Bukhara, as I walk by the old Soviet water tower structure that is undoubtedly very phallic.

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This dispatch is one of over 70 travel dispatches from the trip grouped and titled, "The Global Trip: 'Stan By Me." It's an archived compilation of Instagram and Facebook posts which chronicled a trip through three countries in Central Asia: Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.

Next entry:
Ladies Who Lunch and Laugh

Previous entry:
Three Amigos


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