Tip #438: At the Dead Sea, Part One
The Dead Sea is “A salt lake, about 397 m (1,300 ft) below sea level, between Israel and Jordan. It is one of the saltiest bodies of water known and is the lowest point on the surface.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
Once at the beach, Omar knew everyone and shepherded me through paying for my ticket (he checked to make sure I got the correct change), and getting a towel and a key for a locker. Then he advised me not to buy anything at the shops there because he knew of a place where the items were less than half price, plus he got a 20% discount because he knew them there. He pointed me toward the changing room and off I went.
I only took the towel, water and my glasses down to the beach. Going down meant walking on a long flight of very uneven stone stairs. By the way, although it had been 16 C (60.8 F) in Amman, here at the Dead Sea it was 33 C (91.4 F) very hot!
The water is beautiful and it is absolutely true that you can lie down and it holds you up. It is also very cold! It is very very difficult to swim or even to right yourself after floating because of the salt content. At the water’s edge there are large blocks of salt.
When I got out of the water, I noticed people smeared with black mud. Cassie had told me that this was what one was supposed to do. I kept looking around to see where people got the mud and finally asked a young Chinese man (who was covered from head to toe!). He pointed out a place where they sell the mud for 3 JD per person.
So I had to go back up the long flight of stairs to go get my bag with my money. Then back down to mud up. The Chinese fellow happened by and helped me mud my back. Then an American couple came over to put mud on their faces (1 JD per person) and the woman offered to take a photo of me.
Then I baked in the sun for a while and when the mud was cracking (not a good look, as if wet mud is any better!) I went into the water and tried to wash off. You can’t hunker down in the water because it keeps popping you up again- but I managed. Without a mirror, I’m not sure it all came off.
I trucked back up the hill to an outside shower, where a man had a hose and hosed me down. I was taken aback when he squatted down, increased the pressure of the water and aimed in right at my crotch- for several minutes. He also pointed the hose down the front of my bathing suit and the back. This was a very awkward situation for me. I really didn’t know if he was making sure that my tender parts were not covered with salt- and/or he was getting his kicks with the ancient American lady.
After that, I went back down the hill and sat in my towel (I had no cover up or hat) and read and took photos of people reading a paper while floating (!) and many different men and women. The very religious women did walk into the water, getting the hems of their dresses wet.
There were oodles of beautiful young Chinese women who had a ball getting mudded and floating. Omar told me later that this is the time when there are a lot of tourists from China, Malaysia and I think he said Pakistan. I mentioned that some folks nearby were speaking French and he said a few French and other Europeans come now.
It was lovely to sit near the water and listen to the gently lapping waves (very small waves). I could have sat there for the rest of the day, but I did get worried about how much sun I was getting.
May your learning be sweet.