After Qumran, we had lunch. Then back to the Dead Sea for our last experience with our amazingly salty friend – floating in the sea. I think just about everyone who knows anything about the Dead Sea knows that it’s so dense (33.7% salt) that you can’t sink. But knowing that’s true and experiencing it were two different things.
Setting out in the morning, we knew that we had to choose whether or not we were going to swim / float in the Dead Sea. I have to admit that I strongly considered not doing so. I passed on the opportunity to get baptized in the Jordan a few days earlier, because (frankly) I just didn’t want the headache of toting extra clothes around all day, getting wet, showering, changing, getting almost dry, having sand in bad places, etc. Plus, I’d forgotten to pack my water shoes (which was about the only thing I forgot, so I wasn’t too hard on myself). I didn’t at all regret my decision to not get baptized (especially since it meant I got to play photographer for the Miller’s). But eventually I decided that I wasn’t going to get that close to the Dead Sea and not fully experience it. I’d already been baptized, but I certainly had never floated on an ultrasaline lake. 🙂
Most of the people I’d grown close to on the tour were diving in with me. But my buddy Kevin wasn’t, so he got saddled with picture-taking responsibilities. I think he enjoyed it though, so I didn’t feel bad. I saw him running around on the beach switching between cameras, snapping pictures like a mad fiend, the entire time we were in the water. Jon and Mary gave him their mega camera for the exercise, and he took some awesome shots. Here are a couple…
Okay, let me share a little about my experience of the water itself…
Wading in, it didn’t feel much different. I was focused more on the squishy mud between my toes than some kind of difference in the water. But when I got out far enough, the buoyancy of the water became amazingly evident. Once in to about my chest, I was no longer able to stand. The water literally swept me off my feet. The tenancy of the ultrasaline water to push your body upward knocks your feet out from under you. It is much easier to just not fight it and float. My heavy butt sank down a bit, but it required absolutely no effort to stay pretty much in the top 12-18″ of water no matter where I was in the lake.
The next thing that got my attention was the mud. I started out noticing that it was sliming my feet as I waded in, but I quickly changed focus to how my friends were all sliming themselves with it! I looked up to realize that half the group had reached down to the bottom of the sea, dug up handfuls of mud, and had smeared it all over their bodies. Now, everyone’s heard about the exfoliating goodness and amazing powers (whatever! *rolls eyes*) of the mud from the Dead Sea, but I guess I didn’t expect to see people putting their “faith in the mud” into action so readily. I was absolutely reluctant to join in, but was eventually accosted by … somebody … I think Michael and Clara. One I had muddy hand prints all over my chest and back, there was no going back. So, I dove right in … to the mud, not the water.
Here’s a picture (which I absolutely love, btw)…
Where I drew the line, though, was getting the mud anywhere near my face … head … eyes. Michael put it on his face too, got a little in his eye, and his head almost came off. Can you imagine how bad it would feel to dump a teaspoon of salt in your eye? Well, 30-something% salt water isn’t better. Not good. I felt bad for him, but I had to tease him about bringing it on himself … that is, until I got about 3 ML of water in my mouth, and nearly gagged my uvula out. GROSS! Took an hour to get the taste out of my mouth.
When it was all said and done, I showered, got dressed, and headed back to the bus for our next adventure … dinner. Have I mentioned that I loved the dinners on our trip? I’m sure you haven’t heard me talk about the humus, right? But I digress (again)…
Before retiring to the bus, I had to make a brief stop by the gift shop to purchase some seriously overpriced sea salts. I couldn’t bring myself to purchase bags of mud (both because they weighed a ton to add to suitcases for International travel and because … well … it’s paying for a bag of mud), but I did pick up the salts for Faith as a small souvenir. She loved them, of course, and I do have to admit that my skin has never been so silky soft and smooth as it was that day after dipping in the Dead Sea.
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