Swimming in the Dead Sea

Trip Start Jan 22, 2010
Trip End May 29, 2010

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Flag of Jordan  ,
Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Dead Sea was about a two-hour drive from Petra and we arrived there right in the middle of the afternoon. It borders Israel and the West Bank on one side and Jordan on the other and is the 1,385 ft. below sea level, the lowest dry land elevation on Earth (just some fun facts)! We changed and went down to the beach and I slooooowly walked in. I hate walking into oceans and such because I can never see what's on the bottom- but no worries here because everything was dead! The salt content is so high (33.7% salt) absolutely no animals or plants can live in this body of water. Hence why I went in-just sand on the bottom. Also because of the high salt content people naturally float on top of the water instead of sinking to the bottom. As soon as I lifted my feet off of the floor of the Sea I was on my back in a second floating away- whether I wanted to be or not. I was kind of out of control for a bit, as I couldn’t get my feet back onto the bottom- I had to force my feet down- it was a crazy sensation. It is very dangerous to get the water in your eyes because it’s extremely painful and burns for a long while afterwards- so no going underwater. I did get some in my mouth unintentionally- BLAH- I prefer table salt! It was like eating pure salt times twenty! We got out after a bit, washed off and changed. Or thought I washed off- the ends of my hair had salt in them for the rest of the day, my neck was white where patches of salt had dried- it was so crazy and fascinating!               We got back in the car to head to Amman- but not before a snack of watermelon on the side of the road! They were selling whole watermelons along the Dead Sea highway so we bought one, pulled over on the highway and ate it! Haley conveniently had a travel food knife for occasions such as this. Pretty deeeelicious! Amman was another two hours away and we eventually reached there around 4:30 or 5pm. This is the capital of Jordan as well as the biggest city in Jordan- we stopped for dinner at an authentic Jordanian place (I guess pigeon is the food of choice here- no thanks) then we bought a bus ticket for that night at 8pm to Aqaba. We said goodbye to Garrett’s friend and his generosity (he lives in Amman) and got on the bus for the 4- hour drive back to Aqaba. We got there around 1:30 in the morning and stayed at the old reliable Moon Beach Hotel from two nights ago. Garrett’s friend also helped us get a flight back to Cairo from Aqaba for a really great price from his cousin’s travel agency and we had to be at the agency at 4pm to get our tickets for a 7pm flight. We slept in and decided to spend our last adventure snorkeling in the Red Sea off of Aqaba’s coast. Ok- they decided to snorkel, I nervously went along with it. They have both done it before and I of course haven’t- I also used to have an large fear of deep water- sooo this was going to be interesting. We walked to a Diving/ Snorkeling Center rented equipment and the Center drove us to a beach with a lot of Coral Reef, fish etc. Apparently this beach was also the most conservative beach I have been to in the Middle East- all the previous beaches had plenty of foreigners and people wearing bikinis, but here- we looked around and not ONE woman was showing skin let alone wearing a bikini. Well that made for an uncomfortable situation we wore towels down to the edge of the water as every single pair of eyes on that beach was focused on us. I walked into the sea put my flippers on with Garrett and Haley helping me every step of the way. It was an experience all right- especially since I NEVER wear bathing suits, swim in oceans, or swim in deep water, or do any type of water sport- and this was all of those combined!! I was able to see some beautiful fish and coral but most of the time I swallowed water, would panic and come up for air coughing and spitting only to look back at shore and see I had an audience the whole time- goodness gracious. I’m so glad I did it though and I feel I could maybe do better next time- I just couldn’t get my breathing right and I ended up drinking about a gallon of the Red Sea. After being stared and laughed at, constantly drinking salt water, scraping my knee on some coral rock, and beginning to turn purple from the cold I decided to get out. We slowly got out and the audience was waiting, I asked if anyone wanted my autograph but there were no takers. Some guy began taking pictures and that really tipped me off- I said something sarcastic and bitchy to him (he didn’t understand me) and Haley spoke some of the Arabic words we learned to make him stop and he did. I was wrapped in a towel with blood running down my leg, shivering and turning blue from the cold- but I swear it was fun!!! The crazy dive center had no First Aid kit so I just rinsed off my knee, got dressed and called it a day. Garrett is a regular fish and decided to go back out again. I watched encouragingly from the shore. We made it back to the travel agency and were sent in a cab to the Aqaba airport around 5:oopm. Yeah, we still didn’t have the tickets yet, but we were hopeful and we had the name of someone to go to once we got to the airport. After we arrived and discovered we could only pay in Jordanian Dinars, there was no ATM and they didn’t take credit cards- we rode back into town to an ATM got money and raced back to the airport at around 6pm. What kind of "International" airport does not have an ATM?? Ridiculous. So we gave him the money, and we went through security- all of this and we still didn’t have the actual ticket. Haley passed through security cleanly with her kitchen knife- a sign we were not in America anymore.  There were only two Gates at the airport and at around 7pm we boarded a flight (that we walked to in the middle of the tarmac) on the airline called Petroleum Gas Services (but it was run under Royal Jordanian I think) all pretty sketchy but interesting nonetheless. We finally made it back to Cairo around 8:30pm. I stepped outside, saw trash everywhere, took a deep breath and coughed at the smell of pollution- I actually like Cairo for all its craziness, quirkiness, dirtiness, and it felt good to be back. I’m glad I decided not to study in Jordan- too clean, Westernized, and not Middle East enough for me ;)





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