The Dead Sea

We spent at afternoon at the beach today. The Jordan River empties into the Dead Sea, forming the western border of Palestine. Harb’s Uncle George made our day by driving us out and spending the day with us. He told us how the water level in the Dead Sea has been dropping rapidly in the last decade, as water is diverted from the Jordan River. The small resorts and cultivated sand beaches are 100 feet higher than the water level now, and you descend over slick grey clay to the water’s edge.

The Dead Sea doesn’t have plants or animals living in it. It is too concentrated with salts and minerals. This makes for a very dense, very foul tasting, body of water. As Mike learned the hard way after submerging completely. Really any contact between the water and your eyes, mouth, nose, or open scratches made for an unpleasant burning experience. So we walked gingerly out over the slippery, uneven sea-bed until we inevitably lost our balance. But you don’t sink. You just float, without any effort. You can point your toes straight down, arms at your sides, and you just bob at the surface, head and shoulders above the water.

We also took advantage of the abundant clay to give ourselves impromptu exfoliation treatments. Evidently, the popular thing to do for Dead Sea tourists is to jump in, grab a handful of clay, cover yourself in it, then let it dry before rinsing back off in the Sea. I’m not sure we looked any younger or prettier afterwards, but it was a good excuse to play in the muck. After rinsing off, we bummed around the beach and ate enormous oranges that George got for us.

We start early tomorrow morning in the UNRWA camp outside Ramallah. Still crossing our fingers that Harb gets his Jerusalem visa this week.

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