A Lively Day at the Dead Sea

This past Tuesday, September 20th, was national election day in Jordan.  We had no classes, no work, and no responsibilities, so we headed to the beach!  I have been very excited to visit the Dead Sea ever since I arrived in Jordan, and the experience did not disappoint.

We arranged for a private taxi to pick Ester, Michaela, and me up in our neighborhood, and drive us the ~1 hour to the Jordan beach of the Dead Sea.  We packed sunscreen, waterbottles, and a change of clothes, and headed out around 9:30am.  We arrived at the Dead Sea Spa Hotel, at which we paid a flat entrance fee of 20 JDs and headed down to the beach.

On our way, we walked past the 5 beautiful pools with slides, mushroom fountains, bridges, etc. of the spa hotel, and rented some towels and a locker.  The whole place was very beautiful and we were excited to spend the day relaxing.  We walked down a lot of stairs to the beach, since the Dead Sea has receded considerably, even in just the last 15 years.

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Once we got there, we set our towels down and headed for the water, which was totally crystal-clear blue, and quite warm.  Walking in just to the knees, if you just lifted your foot from the ground, it would pop up immediately to the surface because of the buoyancy.  Once I walked in to about hip level, I just turned around and essentially sat back into the water, which caught me like sitting in a hammock.  Floating was totally effortless and I could relax my entire body and not sink even an inch.  It was incredible and very strange!

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We floated around for a while, experimenting with the incredible phenomenon of total buoyancy.  It was quite difficult to even be upright while submerged within the water, as I kept bouncing up and down just like a buoy – it was much easier to just relax and float.  We also had to be very careful not to get any in our eyes or mouths, or even really on our faces that much at all, due to the incredible saltiness which was extremely painful in the eyes – or so I heard from Ester.  It was also quite painful in its own way on sensitive parts of the body, so that we couldn’t spend a lot of time continuously in the water.  I had to get out every 5-10 minutes and rinse off with non-salty water before going back in.

We also, of course, did the Dead Sea mud exfoliation treatment!  I’m not sure how well it worked, except on my face, where I kept it on the longest – felt amazing and quite soft afterwards!  The incredible thing about the mud facials was that we scrubbed it all onto our bodies, let it bake in the sun for a little while, and then would get in the salty water, where it would almost immediately dissolve right off without even a touch.  On our faces, which obviously we couldn’t put underwater, we rinsed them with regular water and it required quite a bit of scrubbing.

We spent almost an hour and a half in and out of the Dead Sea, playing around with our ability to float with no effort and with our hands in the air.  It was incredible and also beautiful, since the water was totally clear and also totally still from end to end, and on the other side we could see the distant mountains of the Palestinian side.  Not a cloud in the sky left a reflection on the perfect blueness of the dead, quiet, salty sea.  It was truly breathtaking, and the best views, of course, can never be captured on camera.

After we finished playing around in the Dead Sea, we checked out the pools for a little while, which was fun mostly to compare how much more difficult it was to float in normal water!  It felt almost impossible after the ease of buoyancy in the Dead Sea.  We showered off, changed, and headed back up to our taxi, which had waited for us patiently for four hours.  He took us right back to our neighborhood, where we all went home, actually showered, napped, studied, and then met up again in the evening for a girls’ dinner at an amazing restaurant we found in our neighborhood, which is also an art collective and supports humanitarian efforts in the Gaza Strip.

Ester, Michaela, Phoebe and I all got a little dressed up and arrived at the restaurant, where we had a reservation from the night before, and had picked out a glass table with a beautiful painting behind it as our place.  We sat down and were talking as they brought over a big glass bottle of filtered water for us.  As we were chatting, the bottle fell onto and then through the glass table, breaking it and the bottle into a bunch of pieces.  We were all totally shocked and confused at first, and then immediately embarrassed.  However, the waiters were incredibly kind and sympathetic, telling us not to worry and that it “never happened.”  They cleaned it all up and moved us to a different (non-glass) table, where we enjoyed a fantastic meal, made up of a bunch of recommendations from the waiter on the best dishes, and eaten family-style.  We finished off dinner sharing a lemon custard and some tiramisu, and had a wonderful evening full of laughter and sparking conversation between friends.  It was the perfect end to a perfect day!

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