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Jordan: Ajlun, Amman, Aqaba, Bethany Beyond the Jordan, Dead Sea, Jerash, Karak, Madaba, Mount Nebo, Pella & Umm Qays, Petra, Wadi Rum
Dead Sea, Jordan: Full of life
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
With salinity in its waters 10 times that of the Mediterranean Sea, no life can exist within. However, its mud has truly amazing healing properties. Rich with minerals like bromide, magnesium, calcium carbonate, iodine, etc, the Dead Sea actually injects life into the living.
Dead Sea actually is a lake. It measures 75 kms in length; is 5 to 15 kms wide and has a depth of 400 meters. Most important, it lies 416 meters below sea level, making it the earth’s lowest point accessible to humans. Since the lake has no outlet except evaporation, it gets more and more concentrated by passing years. Many rivers, notably Jordan River flow into the Dead Sea. However, dams are now restricting the inflow. The Dead Sea is losing a meter every year. It is feared that within 50 years there won’t be any Dead Sea… just a massive hole. Do plan a visit, there’s still time.
The drive from Aqaba to Dead Sea is about 3 hours. The highway runs parallel to Israel. At times we could easily see the Israel traffic. There’s just one restaurant on this desert way. Make the best use of it - as we did for our rest room and coffee break. The road is punctuated by tomato farms and a few phosphate factories.
We were booked at Hotel Movenpick on the banks of Dead Sea. The property has my full marks. It has all things that one would expect from a resort… well appointed rooms, many restaurants, landscaped areas, spa, pools and easy access to the beach.
Generally speaking, the waters are quite calm all throughout the year. However, just for a few days, heavy winds can rough up the waters. As luck would have it, we were around in one of the worst times. Red flags on the beach meant we were not allowed in the waters. Broken was our dream to float on the Dead Sea waters. By the way, the beaches are not sandy. It’s all rocky. All the more reason to be careful in rough weather.
However, there was some good news. The spa at Movenpick has a pool that’s fed directly with waters pumped in from the Dead Sea. Alas, I could read the magazine, floating, without the fear of drowning. Thanks to the salinity, you can’t drown in Dead Sea water even if you want to!
That evening we had dinner at their open air Italian restaurant. There was a live performance by a belly dancer named Mariana Elias, a Brazilian with over 10 years experience. Her movements kept us glued to the seat. I have had the opportunity to see belly dancers perform in Middle East but this, by far, was the best. I have posted some pictures here… a fraction of the collection that I treasure.
The next morning, after breakfast we left for Bethany Beyond the Jordan. That’s were John the Baptist, baptized Jesus Christ. The site is only 15 minutes drive from the hotel. It was here that Jesus first prayed to God and gathered his first disciples. Pottery, coins, stone objects and architectural remains confirm that the site was used in the early 1st century AD during the time of Jesus and John.
Located on the shores of Jordan River, and near the actual baptism site stands John the Baptist Church. A few steps down took us on the banks of the very narrow Jordan River… that divides Israel and Jordan. Just 15 feet away was the Israel border. Standing guard were fully decked soldiers. A few swimming strokes and you would be in Israel!
By noon we were back at the hotel to be welcomed by a lemon drink. More than the drink, it was the server who was admired. Carrying a large brass vessel, he had perfected the art of pouring the lemon juice. It was a good visual treat. Of course, the lemon juice was more than welcome especially after walking around at the baptism site.
The afternoon was free. We made good use of the time at Zara Spa. That evening, we again had the opportunity to see Mariana at her gyrating best.
Dead Sea Image Gallery Photo viewer
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