I have been thinking of sharing my experience at the Dead sea for the past three years, and finally that moment arrived, when I could make some time to write about it.
Dead sea is actually a lake, ya I know its strange why people call a lake as a sea. But its also true that, once upon a time it used to be part of the sea, but then gradually over the time, this particular section of the sea got separated from the sea and completely cut off from any source of water to it. Ideally, for any lake, the source of water is rain or from small streams, but for the dead sea, there is absolutely so big source of water, accept for a few millimeters of rain that pours there and a little more from the Jordan river. Dead sea is located between the borders of Israel, Jordan. Now as I say, there is no source of water, the dead sea has no way to dilute the salts in its water and over the time the salt contents in the dead sea is concentrated so much that, the density of the water over there is more than most of the things on this planet. So practically anything will not sink into the dead sea but it will mere float and that is the main reason why it has become a famous tourist spot. The floating experience at the dead sea is amazing, all you have to do is just lay over the water and just maintain your body balance without worrying about being drowned 🙂 Also as a matter of fact, dead sea is the lowest place on earth, which means, the altitude of the dead sea is below sea level, so naturally the atmospheric pressure there is less.
Well actually, as I started, I got lucky 3 years ago, in 2011 when I had to travel to Israel on a business trip and I got a chance to visit to the dead sea and the near by places such as the Judian dessert, Massada fort.
Israel is a small country but there are so many good tourist destination in and around Israel, places such as Jerusalem, Haifa, Akko, Rosh Hanikra, Massada fort, Eilat port, Sea of Galilie etc. I could visit quite few of these places but the tour that took me to Dead Sea and Massada fort was one of the best ever in my life. The tour started from Tel Aviv, which is the business capital of Israel and also the place where we were put up in Israel. Tel Aviv is one of the most modern city with skyscrapers, traditional Jewish buildings, lots of restaurants etc. Being alone on any trip is worse than being alone at home, but I was fortunate that I had few of my other colleagues with me on this tour. The tour was by bus and we had to go to a pick up point and the bus was on time. Most of the people were foreign tourists, people from China, US, Europe etc, the tour guide was a Jewish women almost in her 60s but she was a lively person. When I say lively, I can recall another instance in Israel, where my taxi driver was a old women, mostly in her 70s and I was amazed to see people working at even such a old age. The tour started from Tel Aviv, then to Jerusalem, where the bus was supposed to pick more people from few hotels there and then the destination was Dead sea.
Dead sea as I said is the lowest place on earth, the altitude is some 500-600 feet below sea level. Enroute, the bus passes some interesting places like the Judian desserts and mountains, infact the Judian dessert was the first dessert that I saw in my life, was amazed to see empty barren lands till the end of horizon, the view was amazing with desserts on both the sides of the road. After the dessert has been crossed, we reached the coast of the Dead sea, so here onwards, the dead sea on the left of the road and mountainous valleys on the right. The mountains were huge and were contoured as if man made, but they were all formed over the years. Rain, as I said is very scarce here, it rains on the other side of the valleys and the water flows from the valleys down to the dead sea and the place where the muddy water joins the blue water of dead sea, is a sight worth seeing a hundred times, it feels as if a painting with blue background and a red expanding dot in the centre.
The coast of the dead see is maintained by various spas and resorts, usually the tourists are taken to one of them and the spa that we were taken was called the Ein Gedi Spa, Ein gedi in jewish means a stag/deer. The place was more or less like a resort with swimming pools, heated pools, spas, massage centers, cafes, shopping stalls etc. The Spa was located almost at a distance of 1 mile or more from the coast of the dead sea, which means, either we had to take a open shuttle to the dead sea or if interested can take a walk, we chose the later as it was a scenic location and we wanted to enjoy every moment of it. As you walk towards the dead sea, behind you is the mountainous valleys stretched from one end of the horizon to another, in front of you is the dead sea, it was a amazing walk. On the way, they have put some markings, which read years, something like, the first marking was 1990 and the second one 2000 and the next one 2010 as we walked towards the dead sea, only later we came to know the significance of those markings, which meant, in year 1990 the dead sea coast was present till this point and it is gradually shrinking in area, which makes sense as there is no source of water to the dead sea and at this rate the dead sea will completely vanish off after another 100-150 years.
The coast of the dead sea, as we had expected was not made of sand but it was made of hardened salts, which looked like marble, there was about 5-6 inch of hardened salt formation on the floor, below which was the dead sea mud. We had to be very careful as the salt formation was very sharp at places was was good enough to pierce through our foot. The first view of the dead sea was really enthralling, unforgettable just blue water with mountains in the backdrop, which were also the borders of Jordan. The tourists are safeguarded by a safety tube laid in the dead sea just after some 75-100 meters from the shore, which ensures tourists do not land up in the middle of the dead sea, where they no longer can stand on the floor or the dead sea and it is very difficulty to maintain body balance in those places. The salty water of the dead sea gave out a pungent smell, similar to the smell, that I have experienced in my Chemistry lab, of that of the compound H2S, which was really bad, the reason being again the same, too much of salt concentration in the water of dead sea, rich in acidic minerals and salts. It seems the water of dead sea has a rich medicinal value for our skin, medicinal values which can cure fungal diseases, allergies and more skin infections. One thing that I enjoyed the most here was the bath with hot sulfur water from the dead sea after applying the dead sea mud over the body 🙂 The spa had made facility to draw the dead sea water, purify it and made it available in the showers right at the shore of the dead sea. It was amazing to see all the tourists applying the dead sea mud over their body, all looking like tribal people and then taking bath in the hot sulfuric water, we too enjoyed it a lot. Only when we saw our photos later, we realized how funny we looked 🙂
Getting down into the dead sea water was again a superb experience of my life, the water was pretty cold, all I had to do was just lie on the water and balance my weight so as I don’t topple over, it was more like sleeping on a bed, was amazing. The water was dangerously salty, when I tried to taste a bit of it, the salty flavor lingered for almost 10-15 minutes after I tasted it. The water was also harmful if gone into the eyes, hence we were asked to be super careful. The tour guide explained us about cases where people have choked badly after drinking excess water from the dead sea, also she said, human eyes could go blind if exposed to the water for more time. Just that, we had to keep these things in mind while enjoying the floating experience at the dead sea. Few people were simply lying in the dead sea and reading newspapers, which is a famous photography pose there 🙂 But we had no choice as we neither had english news papers with us or we knew to read Hebrew 😛 We had almost an hour to spend at the dead sea after that unwillingly we had to start back to the spa and get fresh for the next destination.
Nevertheless it was a great experience for all of us, something to remember for rest of our lives. I hope the authorities work for existence of the dead sea so that out future generations to get a chance to experience the floating at dead sea 🙂
|| Pradeep Prabhu ||