The Dead Sea – البحر الميت
This past Friday (Jordanian weekends are Friday and Saturday because Friday is the Muslim holy day), a group of fellow faculty members and I traveled to the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is actually technically a lake, but an impressive one nonetheless. It is the lowest point on the entire Earth at 408m below sea level (at the bottom of the lake) and the water is 31% salt, making it almost entirely barren to any real wildlife. EXTREEEEEME!
The EXTREME-ness of the lake doesn’t scare people away from swimming in it though. It’s really hard to describe the experience accurately. In addition to making every single cut or nick on your entire body sting fiercely, the high salt content makes the water extremely buoyant so that you float with literally no effort. In fact, it’s almost impossible to go underwater. At the summer program a few summers ago, some students thought that they could swim because they could swim in the Dead Sea, but upon getting into the school pool they (and I) realized that their skills did not translate to normal pool water. I was surprised at how many kids really had no clue how to swim, and then I remembered that the entire country is basically a desert with 16 miles of coastline (about the same amount as New Hampshire!). Here is a picture of me reading a magazine (I think it’s a naughty one that an Italian tourist had brought with them) perfectly relaxed floating in the water.
Another aspect of the Dead Sea is the supposed health benefits. There are tons of spas lining the shores that somehow utilize the strange environment to make your skin super sexy (German health insurance companies will pay for trips to the Dead Sea if you have psoriasis). At the beaches there are big tubs of Dead Sea mud you can rub all over yourself use for a natural spa treatment (see picture!). EXTREEEEME!