Marrakech And The Art Of Flying

Once upon a time
flying was magical. It was the stuff of dreams. A magic carpet ride could take
you thousands of miles away to a different world. Even when holiday travel
began, the idea of arriving in a foreign land only hours after leaving seemed
incredible, luxurious, glamorous. It would be easy to make this about leg room
or in-flight meals, the battle of the armrest and all the other little politics
of flying, but I think it’s more than the logistics which have ended our
romance with flying.

Once upon a time
flying was magical. It was the stuff of dreams. A magic carpet ride could take
you thousands of miles away to a different world. Even when holiday travel
began, the idea of arriving in a foreign land only hours after leaving seemed
incredible, luxurious, glamorous. And whereas the ambience of Marrakech, the
noise of the market, the bustle of the souks and even the other-worldly
elegance of the luxury hotels hearken back to those days, sometimes sitting
squashed in a middle seat, trying to drop off for a few moments while the queue
for the toilet grows ever longer, it’s hard not to wonder whether the holiday
is really worth it.

It would be easy to
make this about leg room or in-flight meals, the battle of the armrest and all
the other little politics of flying, but I think it’s more than the logistics which
have ended our romance with flying.

A friend mentioned
today as I whinged about our nightmare trip back from Marrakech (diverted via
Casablanca – delayed 5-6 hours) that flying was necessary to allow us to make
the transition from one culture to another. I’m not sure that’s true, but it
started me wondering.

The other thing that
started me wondering was the incredible spa experience I had in Marrakech.
Having a traditional hammam in Agadir two years ago started me down a path of
trying ever more interesting massage and healing experiences, and it’s one of
the reasons I wanted to go back to Morocco. Although hammams are popular in
many areas of Europe, particularly Paris and Seville, the one experience I
managed to find in London left me cold (literally having cold water laughingly
flung at me.)

After weeks of serious
spa research I had it down to a few choices – including the odd sounding
tkissila (or tekssila) – a traditional massage in which apparently you end up
flying over the (male) masseur’s head. So I said my usual thing “sounds
weird – I don’t think I’ll do that” but booked into the Palais Rhoul Spa
anyway, for a traditional hammam… but without the flying lesson.

Of course once I was
there it seemed silly to miss out. 
As I watched the lights and ceiling of the hammam spin first one way and
then the other, as I was elevated quite literally over his head, I really
couldn’t quite believe what I was doing. I was in wonder at him, the ease with
which he manipulated my body and effortlessly made me soar, and myself, that I
was here, that I was actually doing this, trusting a complete stranger, letting
go and relaxing while watching the world spin by. One minute I was completely
disorientated, the next I was back on my feet, giggling uncontrollably.

It’s two days later
and I still haven’t come down.  I
believe in the therapeutic power of massage, not just for a sore back, but in
helping us to heal more deeply, to breathe, let in space in our lives, develop
confidence in our bodies and I feel like I am starting to see and feel another
benefit from this particular treatment.

It’s not always easy
for me to trust – especially men – and so this treatment felt like I was
opening a door. Taking a step down a path leading to a new me, or rather a me
that could fly, supported by a man, trusting that he can support my weight, not
lose concentration, maybe even for longer than a few minutes…

Every journey I go on,
every spa I try teaches me something. This trip seems to be making me think, as
well as flying, of men and women. Of the idea of covering up, of just how
unpleasant a hand on your fully clothed back, or a look can be, but at the same
time how a man in just a pair of bathing shorts could comfortably scrub me all
over, manipulate my body, throw me up in the air, wash my hair and then rough dry
my hair and tie my dressing gown as if I were a prize boxer. It may take me
more than a few days to understand the lessons of this trip.

The tkissila turned my
world upside down, bringing me back to earth with the sense that something
wonderful had happened.

So what happened to
that aspect of flying in a plane? When did it become so mundane and
inconvenient?

I suppose that if I
had needed the loo, or been hungry or overtired I wouldn’t have enjoyed my
tkissila very much.  I guess it’s
all about having our needs met, and if I had got on the last place having had
enough sleep and food I would have enjoyed it more.

I guess the answer is
simple, too many of us now don’t look forward to the experience of flying enough
to treat it with care. If we showed up looking forward to a few hours or
reading, or music, prepared for the odd bump, we’d probably enjoy our flights
more than we do when we arrived tired and hungry – thinking we’ll catch up on
our sleep on the plane, and grab a snack (only to find the crew haven’t packed
any food or drinks – yet another flight back from Morocco).

I’ve learned to go to
the loo before I get on a plane, and eat (or pack snacks) and I try to make
sure that my back is feeling okayFree Articles, so maybe the last lesson I need to learn is
to stop saying “I’ll sleep on the plane” and get my very much needed
rest before I head for the airport.

Either that or start
packing my yoga mat in my hand luggage so that any airport in the world can be
transformed into an impromptu yoga studio (and a place for a snooze).  Maybe it could be my modern day flying
carpet! 

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