08 February 2010
The Dead Sea
Upon arriving in Israel everyone said going to the Dead Sea is something you “just have to do. It’s a must,” I was told. But it was said in that tone where it’s like, “yeah, I mean, you have to do it even though it’s not that great because everyone does it and that’s that.” I don’t understand this kind of recommendation. It’s like saying, “this pie is gross. It doesn’t taste good at all but everyone eats this pie because they just always have.” Huh?
Fortunately, a visit to the Dead Sea was nothing like this. It was, instead, of the most bizarre sensations I have ever felt. The bus drops me off a good mile away from the Dead Sea resort and I walk - in the blasting sunshine - through the ex-battlefield of the Israel/Jordan war, noting the bombed out houses, schools and shops. It’s like a ghost city. Twenty minutes later I reach the gate. It’s $12 to actually go into the Dead Sea. Why? The towel, special creams and showers for afterward, which will be much appreciated later.
I get down to my skivvies and wade into the mushy clay and salty, oil-like water up to my neck. It feels like walking on the moon or rather, since I haven’t walked on the moon, what I think walking on the moon would be like. As you lie back and let your feet rise to the surface, the real wonder is felt for the very first time. It is physically impossible to sink. It can’t be done no matter how hard you try.
The Dead Sea is the lowest point on the Earth’s Surface and it seems that every last ounce of Salt the world over sinks slowly toward this point. The water is 33% salt! That means in 1 gallon of water there would be over FIVE CUPS of salt! As a result, you just skim the surface , bobbing up and down like a deep water buoy in the ocean. The sensation is similar to being on the moon or rather, since I haven’t been to the moon, what I think being on the moon would be like.
I throw the healing mud all over my face and body, “doing as the locals do.” I swim back and forth, gliding across the surface with the greatest of ease. I sit Indian-style, my butt nearly on top of the water. I AM SUPERMAN. I decide to dip my face under and with that one quick motion all the fun and frolicking stops. The water tastes like eating a frying pan or rather, since I’ve never eaten a frying pan, what I think eating a frying pan would be like. Every tiny wound on my lips - a place where you actually have quite a few wounds but would never know it - is stinging in salt-infested pain. I am spitting incessantly, trying to make the nasty nasty nasty stop, now fully understanding why this is something you “just have to do.” Apparently, the thing NOT TO DO is put your face under. Ever. Under any circumstances.
I get back to my friend’s place in Tel Aviv and tell her what I did. “You put your face under? Why? Everybody knows not ot put your face under.” Everybody but me, apparently, the one zipping across the water with the greatest of ease, walking on the moon while eating a frying pan.