Day 8: Mud and Salt

Trip Start May 19, 2009
Trip End Jun 16, 2009

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Flag of Israel  , Dead Sea Region,
Wednesday, May 27, 2009

(Day 8, Ein Gedi, Israel) A change in plans... At 4:15 a.m. this morning, it didn't seem as good an idea to drag ourselves to see the sunrise from Masada. Somehow, we had the presence of mind to make better plans, starting with more sleep. After breakfast, we headed to the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve for a relatively easy hike up Nahal David, a green strip between the bright, rocky desert cliffs on either side, down which flows a modest river (where the water comes from in this hot, parched area I'm not sure). Along the way are five waterfalls; we chose to cool off in one, an idyllic setting if there ever was one! The final waterfall was indeed the most impressive, but due to the danger of falling rocks, no swimming was allowed there. Aside from a field trip of Arab teenagers along the way, we had the trail pretty much to ourselves; we made it back down to the parking lot just in time to escape huge busloads of kids arriving--good timing!

Next stop: the Ein Gedi Spa near the shores of the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on Earth (did I mention that?). First, a dip in the indoor sulphur pools, hot and murky and unpleasant smelling. No need to dawdle there. We headed outside to do the #1 item on Kevin's list of things to do in Israel: getting covered in Dead Sea mud, like the guys in the (highly recommended) film "Walk on Water." (Check his blog and you'll see a picture from the film.) We smeared ourselves head to foot in the dark gray chunky stuff. Ugh. But it was fun. Ten minutes or so to let the stuff dry and suck out one's impurities, and it was time for a sulphur shower to wash it off. After lunch at the spa, we hopped on the "shuttle" to the shore of the Dead Sea, which over time has receded so far from the spa that it's a ten-minute walk. No ordinary beach this was: instead of sand, there's hardened salt with rippled grooves. Keep walking into the warm waters, and soon your feet will lose touch with that hard surface and you begin to float. I'll have to say that a few of my cuts from this and that did sting a bit from the high salt concentration, but nothing intolerable. A few meters away, three bicycles are parked half-submerged, a demonstration of the salt crystallization which will someday cover the parts of them exposed to the air. Once in a while, an Israeli Air Force F-15 whistles by high above.

Back at the kibbutz, it's email, blogging, and beers while we do some laundry (it's so hot there's no need for a dryer even if there were one), then dinner, a walk around the lush grounds, and TV: tonight, it's Israeli "Cash Cab," only the driver schmoozes with the passengers way more than the New York version, and he gives hints! Which, if Kevin and I ever got into that cab, would be essential, since the questions were so localized, surely we'd be ejected in minutes. Aside from "Idol," I'd love to see the other local versions of some favorite shows: we saw an awesome ad for the upcoming "Proyekt Maslul" (Project Runway) and another for "Hisardut" (Survivor). But I'm enjoying the music channel in the meantime, and finding the captioning of everything on Channel 2 both helpful and distracting.

Well, it's late, so I'll sign off here. Tomorrow we're really going to get up before dawn, climb Masada, then leave this really wonderful setting, the dramatic and stark desert, the sea of salt, and the oasis that is Ein Gedi, and head for Jerusalem of gold.
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weekilter on

Re: Ein Geddi
My sister's family, dad and Jonathan (my older brother) went to the kibbutz and spa to partake of the sulphur springs and such. I much enjoyed the starkness of the surrounding area.

Glad you're enjoying yourself.

rmisaac on

thanks, Joseph and John! having a good time! really loved the desert part of the trip so far, terrain especially, as you mention... beautiful!

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