The Dead Sea is Where You Go to Die

Totally exaggerating, of course, but what fun would this blog be without a little drama? This past weekend, I took a trip to the Dead Sea. Fortunately for me, this little oasis is only a 30-45 minute drive from Amman, making it a very reasonable day trip…one which I plan on taking as often as possible.

The Dead Sea borders Jordan on the east and the West Bank and Israel to the west. It is the world’s lowest point (on land), at 1,388 feet below sea level. It is a hypersaline lake, with a salinity of 33.7% – one of the highest in the world – which means that not only can nothing survive in its waters (it is truly, dead), but humans can easily float…and apparently boats would sink. I didn’t quite know what this would be like until I took my first few steps in the water and fell backwards, only to pop right back up again. It’s virtually impossible to fully submerge yourself…floating in the Dead Sea is akin to trying to swim wearing a life vest. The Dead Sea has been a resort destination of sorts since biblical times, and apparently Egyptians used balms for mummification sourced from there. The Dead Sea is also a pretty major health research site and there are tons of stories of people with eczema, or psoriasis spending a day in the healing waters of the Dead Sea and coming out cured. “The mineral content of the water, the very low content of pollens and other allergens in the atmosphere, the reduced ultraviolet component of solar radiation, and the higher atmospheric pressure at this great depth each have specific health effects.” (http://twistedsifter.com/2012/06/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-dead-sea/)

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Just floating.

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Doing my pilates lower back exercises. 

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Wish I had my magazine.. 

In addition to the benefits of the water and the atmosphere, the mud in the Dead Sea is known for it’s “magical” healing properties. Though years of research has not been able to conclusively prove why the mud is so beneficial, there are numerous clinical trials demonstrating the healing effects of the Dead Sea mud. It is known for everything from relieving pain associated with arthritis and fibromialgia to curing cancer, or at the very least, alleviating the effects of chemotherapy. Cosmetically, I can attest to the mud’s amazing ability to make your skin feel soft as a baby’s bum. It gave my whole body a healthy glow and cleared the chronically dry skin I’ve developed here as a result of the dry air (not complaining about the lack of humidity, mind you). (http://www.seacretspa.com/Dead_Sea_Mud_article)

There are few times in life after the age of seven when it is socially acceptable to smear mud all over your body. This was one of them. Men, women and children of all ages and in all stages of dress crowded by the buckets of mud, taking turns lathering up each other’s backs and faces. After our skin began to “crack” in the sun, we made our way back to the ocean where our feet would magically pop up to the surface of the water, and we could float and drift with abandon while rubbing off the mud.

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Mud people!!

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Ok, so we missed the back of our legs a bit…

But now on to the drama. While getting ready for dinner Friday night, I began to notice my fatigue. However, as it was 9:30pm and I have adopted the sleeping habits of a 75-year-old woman since arriving in Jordan, I assumed it was just past my bedtime, and powered through. However, halfway through dinner, I knew something was off. My mother’s side of the family – the “Wild” side (no pun intended) – has a very telltale sign of sickness. Our skin gets very sensitive to the touch to the point that clothes or sheets are too irritating on our skin, and our bodies start to ache. I assumed I was merely dehydrated from the sun and saltwater, and chugged some water and headed to sleep it off. I knew it was all over when I didn’t have the energy or appetite to enjoy more than a piece of toast from our free, amazing breakfast buffet, complete with smoked salmon, omelets made to order and a variety of cheese spreads. When I can’t take full advantage of free food, it’s time to call the doctor (I did manage however, in my weakened state to smuggle some hardboiled eggs and tiny jars of jam and honey for later).

There are few things that make one feel more helpless than sitting on a couch with a thermometer in your mouth, blood pressure cuff on your arm and not being able to understand a word of the conversation happening around you, about you, and your health problems. However, what it seemed to come down to was that I have apparently had an inner ear infection for the past couple of months, and given the change in altitude and atmosphere, it must have been exacerbated.

I was escorted to my room, and then, as Forrest Gump said best, “I got shot in the buttock.” The dramatic side of me wants to call it some crazy sedative, but I think it was just extra strength ibuprofen. Had I had the proper wits about me, I surely would have had someone capture the image to share with the world, but alas, I was near delirium (again I exaggerate for dramatic effects). Anyway, story-that-was-way-longer-than-it-needed-to-be, short, after 30 minutes, I was out of bed and down by the pool…so if anyone knows where I can buy Voltaren in bulk, please let me know because I have a feeling that would kick the ass of any hangover I’ve ever had…

Needless to say, it was an interesting trip to the Dead Sea – one which I would like to make several times while in Jordan. Maybe this time I’ll remember to reapply my SPF after the mud bath… 

And now, some more pictures for your viewing pleasure…

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We stayed at the brand new Crowne Plaza. Super swanky.

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The pool looks like something out of a Disney World Resort.

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The glass elevator that took us down to the beach level.

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If this picture were zoomed in more, you would see that most people in the water are covered in mud..or about to be.

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Sunset over Israel.

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