Dead Sea Adventure - A Day to Relax

Trip Start Dec 09, 2005
Trip End Jan 01, 2006

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Flag of Jordan  , Balqa,
Wednesday, December 28, 2005

December 27, 2005: We departed Petra for the Dead Sea. The ride took about three hours, and along the way our tour guide pointed out several notable spots - a monument sitting atop a high hill, where Aaron, Moses' brother is said to be buried, a fertilizer manufacturing plant (one of the large industries in Southern Jordan), and the many Bedoin settlements along the roadside (more about this later).

About halfway between Petra and the Dead Sea we stopped by the roadside to overlook the valley below, the Dead Sea visible in the distance just beyond the dry, rugged terrain.   From dusty brown dirt, the landscape gradually turns green closer to the rich moisture of the Dead Sea, which is actually a lake sitting below sea level and having no outlet. Referred to as "dead" because no fish can live in the mineral-rich waters, the Dead Sea is a repository for the waters of the Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized and the children of Israel crossed into the Promised Land.

The winding road took us through the mountainous terrain, where many of the Bedoin people live, herding sheep and goats, and preparing for their next trek through the high desert on their trading route. Bedoin means "people of the dry land", and refers to a lifestyle, much like a farmer. There are approximately 50,000 Bedoins in Jordan making up about 1 percent of the country's population. They travel in search of water and suitable pasture for their animals, and comfortable temperatures as they move to major trading areas to exchange products of their sheep and goats (milk, wool, meat, goat hair) for gold and other materials they need. They typically settle in a place for 3-4 months and live in tents made of goat or camel hair, which is water resistant. Most Bedoin children do not attend school.

Finally, we arrived at the Marriott Resort and Spa at the Dead Sea. This lovely resort was like an oasis in the desert. A beautiful building made of bright white limestone on the outside, with a lobby decked in granite and marble with gold trim and windows from floor to ceiling. The pool area included four large pools, one with a fountain in the center and one with a water slide for the kids (big and small). We enjoyed a delicious buffet lunch at the hotel and then headed down to the Dead Sea beach, hopeful of slipping on our swimsuits to experience the waters so rich in salt that you can effortlessly float atop.

Traipsing through the dark, moist sand towards the water, I was struck by the fact that Jerusalem is just across the way on the other side of the sea (or the lake, as it were). Despite the sunny day, the breeze whipping through the area made the air too cool for us to get into the water, which was a bit of a disappointment. But the winds didn't stop some people. I noticed several folks slipping into the waters and rubbing the mineral rich mud onto their skin. The water and mud is reported to help cure several ailments including eczema, arthritis and other joint, muscle and tissue aches.

After the two-hour visit, we again boarded our bus and returned to Amman, stopping first at a shop to purchase some of the products from the Dead Sea - salts and soaps for the bath, lotion and other unique items. Returning to the Regency Palace Hotel in downtown Amman, we enjoyed dinner and relaxed for the rest of the evening.
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