My friend in Jerusalem and I rented a car this morning and headed off to see Masada (site of the Jewish War of 66 CE) and then go for a float in the Dead Sea.
Most. Fun. Ever.
I am a swimmer. I have been a swimmer my whole life. My parents put me in swimming lessons at an incredibly young age and that led to being a competitive swimmer for many, many years. I find the smell of chlorine comforting. So my natural instinct when I get into water (and I have a compulsive need get into any body of water I can, as evidenced by my having waded in the Danube in January) is to, you know, swim. It turns out, you can’t really swim in the Dead Sea. I tried. I failed miserably. You can, however, stand up in the Dead Sea without treading water. In fact, I tried treading water and it was like trying to tread water in pudding. It’s a very strange sensation. I was far more entertained by my ability to bob like a cork than I was by the lying back and reading the paper aspect of it.
A few facts: the Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth at 420 metres (a little under 1400 feet) below sea level. The lake itself reaches a depth of about 375 metres (about 1250 feet). It has a salinity of around 34%. By comparison, the average salinity of the world’s oceans is 3.5%. Apparently, the Dead Sea is a haven for those with skin and breathing ailments…the air quality and something in the water act as healing agents; the water has been found to contain 21 minerals, including 12 that are not found in any other saltwater anywhere in the world.* Even King Herod used it as a spa.**
*I can’t speak to the healing properties or whatever, but when you get out, it feels like you’ve been bathing in baby oil.