Monday, August 2, 2010
One thing about this part of the world, the Holy Land, is that everywhere you turn, biblical history surrounds you. From Mt Sinai and the burning bush, to the Jordan River where Joshua led his people across to Jericho (which we could see from the drive), to Mt. Nebo where Moses is believed to be buried - it’s everywhere! And that’s only the beginning. Jerusalem was just across the Dead Sea. I mean who’d of thought I be this close to where the walls came down in Jericho, something I remember learning about as a kid?!
Now back to Mt. Nebo. Since it was roughly closing time we had a rushed visit. From this high vantage point, you get a splendid panorama view of the Holy Land. You also get a look at interesting artifacts including some 4th century mosaics and a huge rolling stone that was used as a fortified door back in the day. Wow!
With a swift exit, we were heading back down the mountain towards Madaba for the last days of the trip.
Posted by Josh Noland at 9:24 AM
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Through the desert valleys and mountains, we wound down to the Dead Sea. The driver had obviously driven this route before because he was whipping the bus around the hairpin turns and past the steep drop offs like it was nothing. Luckily he used his horn in a few choice places to avoid other drivers, although it didn’t ease the tension of the drive down.
Once down at sea level...well, below sea level - some 1,378 ft, the road followed the shores of the Dead Sea. We stared down the steep cliffs to the water, where you could see the salt build up and the white rings it left behind. The shoreline is rough, steep and rocky. It’s not a picturesque beach with golden sand but more of a rocky dirt and grit substance with a deep orange color leading to the sea that is a deep teal color.
Locals were out by the side of the road enjoying the day and the sea. It seems so surreal to think about living in this part of the world and a fun day out being by the shores of the Dead Sea.
However, the place we stopped wasn’t quite that basic. It was a built-up swimming area with restaurants, shops, pools, changing areas and most important - easy access to the Dead Sea. After a mediocre buffet lunch, we were changed and ready for a swim, well, a float.
While walking into the water all seems normal. The bottom is rocky and tough on the feet but you trudge on. As you go further in, up to waist level, you lean back, pick up your feet and viola – you float! Its like sitting in a chair! You can stretch your knees out and you still don’t sink. Its so strange and so smile-inducing. Then you start experimenting. What else can I do? On your stomach, no problem, arms and legs up, same – still floating. Lets try deeper water to stand up straight – yep you bob like a buoy. How Awesome! Bobbing up and down was Steph's favorite part - she was thoroughly entertained and laughing until we had to leave! Just don’t get the water in your eyes. Ouch - that salt burns!
One other interesting thing about the Dead Sea is that the mud is supposed to have healing properties. You reach down and grab the mud and cover yourself it in. At first its all fine but gradually it starts burning. It does soften the skin and make for some good pictures, but it does sting.
Floating was so much fun...so much so, that we lost track of time (Steph was still having a blast bouncing in the deep water, but I was too, to be fair!). Our group was waiting on us because it was time to move to the next location, Mount Nebo.
Posted by Josh Noland at 6:13 AM