Life at the Dead Sea
June 30, 2014
There are some things in life that live up to your expectations of them. New York City, I found, was one of those things; big, bustling and just as exciting as everyone made it out to be. Petra, too. That walk through the Siq and the catch-in-your-throat breath that comes with the first glimpse of the Treasury. But more on Petra and my adventures there later.
The Dead Sea, though, exceeded all the expectations. Colleagues told me it was amazing, friends who’d visited before said it’s unlike anything I’d ever experience, locals all pointed out how it’s always a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of busy Amman. They were all correct.
Last week I went to one of the hotels stretched along the coast with friends for one night. We arrived in the afternoon, entered the immaculate lobby, rushed our bags to our rooms, and went straight down to the beach.
The sky was splashed with orange and pink as the sun was setting over Israel as we all walked over the little wooden jetty into the water, still warm from a day of sunshine beaming onto it. I can’t quite describe the sensation of wading out into the sea and then suddenly floating, sitting, not sinking. Nothing would do it justice, I think. There were shrieks of laughter and disbelief, and the three other tourists looked on with amusement, probably remembering their identical reactions the day before.
It was hard to take in as I was floating there, watching the sun sink over the hills on the shore across the sea, that this was the only place on the planet I could be having this experience. It’s not the only time I’ve had a feeling like that in Jordan, but it felt particularly amazing at the Dead Sea as we were laughing and trying unsuccessfully to swim and flopping around like toddlers in life jackets, and ultimately giving in and lying back, being gently lifted and rocked by the waves.
And then there was calm. It was quiet, and I had time to reflect a bit. It’s hard to think in the city sometimes. Cars everywhere, people everywhere, the heat, the buildings, the concrete. Floating in the Dead Sea afforded the much-needed opportunity to just stop. You don’t even need to swim – there’s no sense of struggling to stay afloat. No work or worries or schedules or lists or language barriers to weigh you down. It’s the weightlessness, both literal and figurative that makes the Dead Sea so amazing, so unlike anywhere else.
I mean, yes, there are amazing hotels, five-star luxury, spas, breakfast buffets to die for and all the rest. In fact, it’s quite tough to go to the Dead Sea without staying in a hotel – I would definitely recommend paying a bit extra, if possible, and staying somewhere with a private beach and good facilities. When you’re ready to get out of the intensely salty water it’s definitely nice to be able to shower and take a dip into a pool, sit back on a sun lounger, or recline in the shade at a bar.
But once you’re out there on the waves with the sunset over the Holy Land and no distractions whatsoever most other things fade into insignificance. There’s a freedom on the water that comes like a cool breeze on a hot Amman afternoon. That sense of forgetting yourself, the space to ponder, the clear your head and just let things go. Yes, it’s definitely the weightlessness that makes it wonderful. You’ll see.