The night before we were set to leave Morocco, Aziza surprised me by offering to create Henna drawings on my hand. Henna is a drying process made from plant leaves that is often done to women as part of a social or holiday celebration. Henna is considered a "blessing" and is applied for luck, joy, and beauty. I was very excited as I had never experienced this process and I had seen the beautiful designs that Lisa had on her hands for her engagement. Lisa was surprised that I had never had Henna done as she had it done multiple times in Morocco. Anyways it was a fun and community building process. The first step was to prepare the henna. Henna is an earthy brown substance that looks and smells a bit like dirt and chocolate. The younger daughters helped heat up and stir the Henna. Next they prepared the syringe, often Henna is drawn using a syringe, minus the needle, so that a thin line can be achieved. This was particularly fun to watch as the syringe they had was not working and so one of the older daughters spent a long time trying to scientifically construct a squirting device (kind of like a pastry frosting bag) using plastic rolled into cones. I appreciated her determination.
Here Aziza is working on the first hand.
The Henna came out very thick, like a paste, and it sat on top of the hand. I loved the photo below because it showed how much of a group process this was. As Aziza was drawing on my hand, the younger women practiced drawing on their own hands and feet. I loved how the youngest girl kept cracking up about here errors as she used the faulty/ rejected pastry bags. When everyone was working together it really felt like a quilting bee or a pampering girls slumber party.
Here are my hands right when they've been finished. It took about two hours between the drawing and drying process, which passed quickly because we were watching Superman on T.V. but it was late! Almost 2 am.
Here you can see both sides of my hands with the drying henna. I sadly did not get a picture, but in order to protect my hands while I slept, Aziza wrapped my hands in gauze and then but plastic bags on them, I felt like a crazy mummy.
The next morning when I woke up, I unwrapped my hands. I showed Momma Ha and she took my hands and rubbed off the dried Henna. Sort of like a hand massage. Voila! I had these lovely designs on my skin beneath the dried Henna. I felt very beautiful to have such elegantly drawing designs on my hands. It was almost like I had a new haircut that I wanted to keep looking at in the mirror.
That morning we all posed for a group picture to celebrate the end of our visit.
The Henna stayed on my hands for the next two weeks, it was a sweet reminder of our trip to Morocco and actually led to many conversations with Moroccans living in Spain and France!