Back on the road our little tourist bus was stopped by the traffic police. It seemed a little incongruous that here in the desert he checked the windshield wipers but something was amiss. Our tourist policeman, guide and bus driver all got out to have a conversation with the official. After some heated words eventually we were allowed to leave. The bus driver was furious and we shot off, passing road signs for Iraq, at full speed. This then caused words between our tourist policeman and bus driver, all very exciting.
The Dead Sea is flanked by mountains to the east and the rolling hills of Jerusalem to the west, giving it an almost other-worldly beauty. Although sparsely populated and serenely quiet now, the area is believed to have been home to five Biblical cities including Sodom and Gomorrah.
We checked into our hotel and headed off to the beach. I had on my water shoes and was very glad of them since the rocks were quite sharp. What an experience, just floating in the warm, soothing, super salty water itself – some ten times saltier than sea water, and rich in chloride salts of magnesium, sodium, potassium, bromine and several others. The unusually warm, incredibly buoyant and mineral-rich waters have attracted visitors since ancient times, including King Herod the Great and the beautiful Egyptian Queen, Cleopatra. All of whom have luxuriated in the Dead Sea’s rich, black, stimulating mud and floated effortlessly on their backs.
Of course I had to try floating on my front. It wasn't a pleasant experience. The water stung my face and it felt like I had super salted my neti pot. I did have my goggles on. Quickly, I maneuvered back on my back. It was a lot of fun in this water but you couldn't really swim because you were so buoyant. You could float upright in the water, completely out of the water from waist up. Finally we tried to get out but that was difficult going from lying on your back to an upright position because of the salinity. The lifeguard on shore grabbed us to help us out.
There was a lovely big pot of the dark, Dead Sea mud on the shore. We helped each other mud up and then sat in the sand, while the mud dried. Then it was back in the water to clean the mud off, which was easier said than done. It was a wonderful experience and one that I will never forget.