Thursday, May 20, 2010

En Route To, Into and Out of the Dead Sea

Still in Jordan, while en route to the Dead Sea, we passed a truck full of camels...

and saw fabulous landscapes....

The salt residue of the Dead Sea outlines the turquoise water with a band of white crystals.

The Dead Sea is evaporating and the surface level is dropping three feet per if the Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth, the lowest point on Earth is getting lower every year.

We frolicked and floated in the Dead Sea for a few minutes. Being able to effortlessly do a double ballet leg (a water ballet move I learned on a high school synchronized swim team decades ago in which you lift both legs simultaneously till they’re perpendicular to the water) was great fun. But as soon as water touched our lips or eyes, the burning sensation was so severe the fun was over.

I knew the Dead Sea had lots of minerals in it (and all kinds of products claim those minerals are great for your skin) but I still expected it to taste a bit like very concentrated ocean water or way-too-salty soup. Not so. When that water hit my lips my body’s self preservation system went into high animation and we skedaddled out of that water and over to the shower as fast as we could. Was it potash that burned so badly? We had passed Potash City with a large processing plant right on the Dead Sea. Or was it another harsh mineral? We later found an entry in Wikipedia saying sewage is dumped from the Jordan River into the Dead Sea! We weren’t far from the Jordan River! I don’t know if that is true or not and whether it was minerals or something else that caused such an intense burning sensation but I’m not sure I would go into the Dead Sea again. It might be best to just look at it, appreciating it from the banks and read about its remarkable geology, chemistry and history.

There is a spa in Bad Reichenhall, Germany—Rupertus Therme—near my favorite spot of Thumsee (see previous posts) where shallow pools give you a buoyancy similar to the Dead Sea. Floating there is a marvelous experience. We’ve even fallen asleep floating there!

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