The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. Its surface and shores are 423 metres below sea level making it Earth’s lowest elevation on land.
It is FREAKY! You walk into the water, it’s really warm and eerily still. I wanted to quick go under to get my hair wet. Bad move! My head felt like it was going to explode, my face was on fire and I thought my nose was going to fall off. When I stood up, a loud booming voice came over a loudspeaker saying “Mam, take a shower! Water dangerous!” Whoopsies. Crisis averted. I took a quick, cold shower and headed back out. So amazing. The extreme salt content makes you feel like a buoy. You can be totally straight in the water like you’re standing with your head above the water but your feet are not touching the bottom. You can sit- I bet you could even take a nap if you tried. We kept saying that it felt like we were on another planet! Afterwards, your skin feels fantastic. We had some cut and scrapes from hiking that quickly disappeared soon after our dip.
Man! Our kids can move! Lennon has some crazy, fast stepping, dancing feet. He was all over the dance floor, but had to take a break when he danced so hard- he cut his toe open. No worries! We bandaged it up, said ‘the show must go on,’ and he went back out to cut a rug! Maddux has his own style with lots of attitude. I think he’ll be like his Unkie Jeff and be in a band some day. Emerson shocked the heck out of us when Barakat pulled her out to dance and she showed us all that the girl’s got some rhythm! As soon as there was a lull in the music- she made a beeline to get off the dance floor. I was laughing so hard until the guy pulled me out there. He whipped me around so fast, my hair was all kinds of crazy! Fun night!
(If the pants I am wearing look filthy and baggy- it’s because they were! They were on day 6 or 7 of not being rinsed out after miles of trekking. Fashion takes a backseat when you’re living life on the road! hee. That’s my excuse now- I don’t know what my explanation will be when I’m back to living my normal life!)
The sand looked like big looming ghosts moving around above our heads! We loved it, but it hurt. The sand pelted our skin and eyes. When it subsided- we looked like someone had put powder all over us.
Our guide was Sada. He yelled “yalla, yalla” often which means “let’s go! let’s go!” He showed us some carvings of Lawrence of Arabia, some sand dunes, camels, rock etchings, lizards and a red rock powder that was once used for makeup. We loved hunting for scarab beetles (they are a sign of good luck) and the kids would follow their tracks until a mini sandstorm would come and blow them away.
Quick history lesson about Lawrence of Arabia that I took from a history website: “Lawrence found fame during World War I. He lived among the Arabs who fought the Turks. He lived the life of a Bedouin, always doing more than those he fought with – riding his camel further, pushing his body harder. He ate what they ate which led to a number of debilitating stomach ailments. But by doing this, he earned the respect of those who fought with him.
“Of all the men I have ever met, Al Auruns (Lawrence) was the greatest prince.”
A sheikh who fought with Lawrence
How important was the contribution of Lawrence to the campaign in the Middle East? Historians are likely to argue this question for many years. Before he arrived in the region, the British campaign had got bogged down. After his meeting with Feisal, the campaign picked up. Lawrence went out of his way to befriend the Arabs – something that not all British officers in the Middle East chose to do. At Deraa, he had a force of 3,000 Arabs.”
Lennon and I were pretty tired from all the hiking in Petra the day before so we decided to chill on the sand dune to watch the sunset while Jesse, Em and Maddux climbed up a huge cliff for a better view (they were so high up we must have looked like scarab beetles to them!)
I am typing this post on March 30th in the middle of the desert. I wish I could transmit the sights, sounds, smells and energy of this camp through the Internet to you. All around us are mountains, red sand and camels. Arabian music is playing and the wind is blowing so hard that it is pelting sand against the side of the tent which sounds really neat. Jesse and the kids are hiking right outside of our tent on a huge rock formation. I can hear their voices echoing in the canyon and my stomach growling. I am so excited we’ll be having dinner soon- I can smell the food cooking on the outdoor fire pit. During the day it was obviously hot, but as soon as the sun went down and a sand storm rolled through, the climate changed to a comfortably cool temperature.
We went on a jeep tour around the desert, hiked, talked, had tea with some Bedouin people, watched the sun set and soon we will play a game of UNO. This is livin’! To top it off- Em and I took showers- the water was cold but the shower stalls were relatively clean, so we were happy!
Perspective is an amazing thing- it can make or break your quality of life. Before we began this trip- we all had certain “creature comforts” that we enjoyed. Almost all are out the window! Not to sound cheesy, but all we really need is each other, drinking water and a good toothbrushing so we can talk in close quarters without gagging. That’s it!
We had to get up early to catch a bus to Jerusalem, so the camp workers got up and fixed us breakfast- so nice. We had hard boiled eggs, powdered oregano, hummus, pita, olive oil, sweet mint tea and swarms of flies! They come as soon as you sit down, but we have eaten under much more disgusting conditions. Flies will not deter us from eating! What a way to start the day!
The camp’s name is Magic Rum and is located in Wadi Rum. The guy who was running it while we were there was great- his name is Barakat. The guy in the white robe is Salden and yes, that is a gun and a healthy supply of large bullets on his shoulder. These guys were fun and welcoming. We had tea with them when we first arrived and danced with them at night before an incredible traditional meal of spiced potatoes, chicken, yogurt sauce, vegetable soup and copious amounts of sweet tea! We killed it- we were so hungry from our desert trekking!