The Dead Sea

Trip Start Mar 31, 2010
Trip End Apr 10, 2010

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Flag of Israel  ,
Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Dead Sea, at 1,385 feet below sea level, is the lowest elevation on the surface of the planet.  the Jordan River once fed into it, but over 90% of the water is now diverted for irrigation and other needs. Since the sea has no exit and water is lost through only through evapoaration, this produces the resulting concentration of salts and chlorides like magnesium, sodium, calcium, and potassium, meaning one can float with ease.  Even Aristotle speaks of the Dead Sea; it was important in the production of bitumen (asphalt), an organic compound used in waterproofing and as an adhesive dating back at least to the fourth millennium B.C.. It was sold to the Egyptians for enbalming.

Along our way south to International Beach, we see the desert hills to our right and the Jordan mountains on the left beyond the Dead Sea.  The color of the water is by no means "dead"  but a beautiful blend of turquoises, greens, and blues along our path. Another thing we notice are the sinkholes all along the shore. The holes form when a subterranean salt layer that once bordered the sea is dissolved by underground fresh water that follows the receding Dead Sea waters.

The kids enjoy the Dead Sea's flotation properties, but we women are thrilled with its cosmetic properties! The high density of the salt water closes the pores, feeling very silky and leaving the skin soft and smooth.  However, we are cautioned that if we stay too long the converse will happen and we will begin to shrivel up as the salt drains the liquid from our bodies!  So every 20 minutes we go shower with fresh water on the shore to wash the salt away and go back "on" the water, since it's hard to sink in.

The beach is very nicely set up with locker rooms, showers and a seaside terrace where we have lunch.  We see many Eastern European tourists. Later the men sit here smoking cigars while others sunbathe or collect salt crystals to take home.
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