How Low Can You Go?

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of Jordan  ,
Friday, January 8, 2010

We sunk to new lows today.  Well, that's not exactly true, as sinking was nearly impossible. 

Traveled down to the dead sea.  400m below sea level, it's classified as the lowest place on earth.  With little input from the drying Jordan River, and no output to the ocean, as water evaporates in this hot hot sun, the salinity levels rise.  The Dead Sea currently sits at 350 grams of salt/kg of water (it is rising), while regular ocean salt water sits at 40 grams of salt/kg of water.  It's the densest water to be found.  Super-saturated, you can find salt crystals forming on the rocks along the shore, and sitting in the sandy ripples under the surface of the water. 

Because of the high salt content, your body is extremely buoyant and cannot sink.  We could not go any lower at all, and Brian found this floating quite novel experience and reveled in lying back and relaxing.  Others read papers and played around at doing some different things.  Swimming is almost impossible as you're so high out of the water your legs cannot kick and arms only splash around.  I was wishing for goggles and a nose plug so I could try to swim underneath the water and see what it was like.  I did not dare without the gear as the tiniest drop stings the eyes and burns the nostrils.  A little taste on the lips is disgustingly bitter and terrible. 

After only a few minutes out in the sun, my skin was covered in white flakes of salt and my skin was itching from starting to dry out.  Luckily, there is the perfect skin remedy available.  Dug from the deepest depths of the sea, this black and tar-like mud is well sought after in the most expensive of spas and is right there on the beach to slather yourself in.  I smeared it everywhere and waited 15-20 minutes to bake in the sun until I had stiff elephant skin.  Then rinsing off in the sea, I felt like a squid surrounded by a pool of black ink, but my skin felt silky and smooth!

I thought I'd sunk to a new low and fallen for a tacky tourist trap.  Maybe so, but as I asked in my blackness, I started to feel less bad.  all around were cheap tourists looking for the experience, but unwilling to pay the couple of dinar for the mud.  Instead they dug wet sand up off of the shore and slapped it on their bodies.  Perhaps I'd been duped?  Was this just as good?  I don't think I watched and listened to the staff laughing and joking and taking pictures of the silly foreigners covering themselves with salty sand. 

Rinsing off and ready to ascend to the heights again.  About 1500m out of the Dead Sea Plains and back in Amman again.  We'd been just about as low as we could go. 
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