A Short Trip

I just came back from the Dead Sea.

View from the hotel room. See the Sparrow on the left?
Late afternoon view from the hotel room. See the sparrow on the left?

view from my hotel room2

A good friend who went down there on a business trip invited me to join him. As it is not too often that I get to escape my demanding life and spend two nights between (clean, white) hotel sheets, I was really looking forward to this breather.

My body, however, decided that this was the perfect opportunity to purge me of the stress and pressures that had built up during the past difficult months I have been going through.

So, what began with mild symptoms of a common cold the day before my trip, freaked into my worst migraine attack ever. During four consecutive days of taking maximum permitted doses of painkillers and migraine-relief pills (which caused the skin on my arms to break out in a lumpy rash and together with my pain-distorted face I looked like regurgitated), I was forced most of the time to just lie flat on the oh so comfortable hotel bed with the oh so magnificent view on my beloved Dead Sea (yes, besides the city of Tel-Aviv, which I fervently adore, and the Sahara desert, which I hardly know, the Dead Sea area is by far my favorite place on Earth.).

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However, I did manage to have some fun whenever the pills kicked in for a few short hours. So, I

  • Enjoyed floating in Dead Sea water and sulfur pools in the hotel spa. The healing quality of these waters is amazing: Last year, an eczema on my foot vanished after I waded only twice through the shallow water at the Dead Sea’s edge.
  • Totally luxuriated in consuming great food, which I did not have to cook myself!
  • Had a few intensely relaxing hours with my friend…
  • Had a good swim in the outside pool, with air temperatures of about 30ºC/86ºF. Now here’s a confession from the bitch in me: I swim with my head under water and I am always totally amused by those women who crawl through the water with their head forcefully held above the surface (they have to get a stiff neck sooner or later, right?) in an obvious attempt to preserve their make-up and/or keep their hairdo in perfect [dry] shape. So sometimes I can’t hold myself back and I swim by very closely and… splish, splash… oops, sorry (giggle). Hey divas, you are in water and water is wet! (Am I evil?)

* * *

I do not like the Dead Sea hotel area.

BUT, for desert lovers (like myself) with a penchant for geologic structures and impressive rock formations, the greater Dead Sea area is absolutely fascinating. First, the descent by car or bus, especially when coming from Jerusalem, is breathtaking. It goes down and down, passing sequences of changing rock scenery, including canyons and terraces, in a variety of earthen hues. When you can descend no more, you are about 400 meters below sea level and have reached the lowest point on the planet (on land). Here, one mineral is king: Halite, the rock form of sodium chloride (table salt), a sedimentary evaporite mineral and a highly concentrated dissolved solution in the Dead Sea. With about 34% salinity, the Dead Sea is among the four or five saltiest lakes on Earth.

* * *

The Dead Sea lies on a series of faults (fractures in the Earth’s crust caused mainly by movement) called the Dead Sea Transform. The fault system separates the African tectonic plate from the Arabian plate. The DST begins at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, goes up through the Gulf of Eilat/Gulf of Aqaba, the Arava valley, the Dead Sea, and the Sea of Galilee, extending all the way to Anatolia in southeastern Turkey. The two plates are both moving north-northeast but the Arabian plate is moving faster. This tectonic activity makes the area prone to earthquakes.

For those interested in more scientific explanations: http://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/project-pages/dead_sea/tectonic.html

The greater Dead Sea area offers many amazing and beautiful sites to visit. Here are just a few:

http://www.deadsea-beach.com/deadsea/en.html

* * *

And here is the sad part: The Dead Sea is in trouble. It is dying.

“The Dead Sea has been shrinking for the last 40 years… Over the last few years, the Dead Sea level has fallen by a meter a year. The decline in sea level has caused enormous damage around the Dead Sea.”

“Diversion of the waters of the River Jordan and the building of evaporation ponds for mineral extraction have over the past three decades led the water level to drop by 25m in depth.

– The whole southern basin of the Dead Sea has dried up and has been turned into an industrial site.
– Potentially life-threatening sinkholes have appeared along the shoreline of the Dead Sea. The sinkholes have been termed “Nature’s Revenge” to man’s harmful actions.
– Domestic and industrial sewage continue to flow down to the Dead Sea, polluting the unique qualities of Dead Sea water.
– No master plan is in place and plans for development are totally uncoordinated.”

http://foeme.org/www/?module=take_actions&record_id=18

* * *

There is so much to know about the Dead Sea, so much more than I know or could cover in this short post. So here are some more interesting links:

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26 Comments

  1. Glad you had a break which even with health issues you managed to enjoy a bit. Is it really like you cannot sink in the dead sea….. you float? I can’t imagine it. Sad about the decline of it. Hope they find a way around this…. as humans do with many natural things.
    Hope you are feeling better!

    Like

    1. Hi dear Ute,
      Yes you really float, you cannot sink and swimming is difficult, one splash in the eyes and they burn like hell because of the high salinity.
      Hugs,
      Heila

      Like

  2. Seems to Tubularsock that everyplace humans show up they pollute it with their garbage and their “progress” and then create further environmental consequences when they attempt to correct
    what they’ve fuck up.

    Oh well, lucky you got to swim in the Dead Sea before its gone.
    Glad you got some R&R even with the migraine attack.

    Did the cat ever get a martini?

    Like

    1. Hi Tubularsock and thanks for stopping by. I so agree with you regarding humans & pollution & “progress”.

      Ha ha, the cat got a huge piece of chicken from a girl that came to sit at a table close by. The girl’s mother looked at me a little bit embarassed (although she didn’t do anything to stop her daughter), but I just gave her an approving smile back. I really didn’t care about table manners at that point, I just enjoyed the scene. 🙂

      Like

  3. wow, I am from Israel. You Made my day reading over your experience. The discovery of the first Dead Sea Scrolls in a remote Judean Desert cave in 1947 is widely considered the greatest archaeological event of the twentieth century. Bedouin treasure hunters and archaeologists ultimately found the remains of hundreds of ancient scrolls. These fragile pieces of parchment and papyrus, including the oldest existing copies of the Hebrew Bible, were preserved for two thousand years by the hot, dry desert climate and the darkness of the caves where they were placed. The scrolls provide an unprecedented picture of the diverse religious beliefs of ancient Judaism, and of daily life during the turbulent Second Temple period when Jesus lived and preached.

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    1. Hi Mihran,
      Wow, you are from Israel? Do you live there/here today?
      I am very happy that I made your day.
      Thanks so much for the interesting contribution about the Dead Sea Scrolls, and for re-blogging the post.
      It is a fascinating area, tranquil and seemingly lifeless yet loaded with anthropological, cultural, and geological history.
      Best,
      Heila

      Like

      1. Hi Heila;

        I moved to the states 18 years ago. I go and visit almost every year of the time my family, relatives and friends. how long was your trip to Israel?

        In regards, The scrolls have traditionally been identified with the ancient Jewish sect called the Essenes, although some recent interpretations have challenged this association and argue that the scrolls were penned by priests in Jerusalem, Zadokites, or other unknown Jewish groups.

        Cheers;
        Miran

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  4. Well done friend…Time out for a change eh ??
    YOU JUST HAD THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, GOOD AND BAD …he he he…Such is life, but still BEAUTIFUL LIFE and it is still PARADISE on Earth.

    Have been there in my days, really it was, not much but sand, scorpions & vipers snakes, rocks and spiky scrubs…As for the hotel??..I don’t remember it…lol
    Also ….I have been a week visiting an old friend in Kibbutz Ein Gedi.
    LOVE IT there…You should see the water fall inside the kibbutz …JUST BEAUTIFUL ( Man made, but looks just natural ).
    PS:..My fave town is Haifa not Tell A Viv…LOL

    Cheers hamudia

    Like

    1. Kef lirot otra chaver! And thanks for the “well done”! Yes, you are so right, life is worth living and inspite of all the hardship, I do enjoy, indulge, and cherish intensely.

      Ein Gedi is a dream (I’d love to spend some time in their hotel http://www.ein-gedi.co.il/en/). When were you there? Not recently, right?
      Haifa is so European; nice town, but nothing like crazy Tel-Aviv.

      Take care friend. HUGS!
      Heila

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      1. Ein Gedi, just aside the Dead Sea in the Judean Desert, not too far from Jerusalem, is one of Israel’s premier hiking spots, featuring spectacular beauty, varied landscapes and botanical gardens. There’s no doubt that Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is one of the most beautiful places in Israel. Not too far from Jerusalem, yet it feels worlds away, Ein Gedi is, of course, one of the most popular escape spots for Israelis who take advantage of the reserve, botanical gardens, and the Dead Sea.

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      2. …it feels worlds away from Jerusalem, so true! … Then the David and Arugot streams, with the waterfalls, the green vegetation, the ibexes, the rock hyraxes… in the middle of the desert. A very special area. 🙂

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      3. Gam ken ..Wink…At the Death Sea on foot I was sometimes between 1974-1975 ??? other ways I flew lots over in my jets 😀 Specially while I was station at Eilat…..Ein Gedi ??? …1975-1977 I believe.
        Yes CRAZY Tell A Viv ..lol 😀
        CHEERS

        Like

  5. Hi Heila 😀 Wow. You put a lot of work into constructing this post. I am so pleased that you took a short break with your friend, but sorry to hear of your migraine attack. At least you were in beautiful surroundings. Love the cat ! You have wetted my appetite for visiting the Dead Sea.

    It’s a shame that the Dead Sea is drying up. Why don’t they build a canal from the Red Sea to keep the water level high ? Lake Chad in the NE corner of Nigeria has the same problem. When I visited there as a kid the Lake was huge. Now almost empty due to deforestation and the encroaching Sahara Desert.

    Big hug my friend. I hope to see you in less than 3 months. Ralph xox 😀

    Like

    1. Hi Ralph, and thanks!

      Yes exactly, that’s what they’re planning to do with the Red and Dead Seas:”For the past few years, only one solution has been ‘on the table’ for saving the Dead Sea, namely the project called the “Peace Conduit”. According to this plan, water will be brought in from the Gulf of Aqaba / Eilat, through the Arava Valley to the Dead Sea in a canal / pipe, via Jordan. Before the water reaches the Dead Sea, it will be desalinated in order to supply drinking water mostly for Jordan, but also for Israel and Palestine. The concentrated salt water (brine), the byproduct of the desalination process, will flow into the Dead Sea. In addition, exploitation of the gradient from the Red Sea (sea level) to the Dead Sea (at 417 m below sea level) will produce hydroelectric power.” But carrying out this plan would have environmental consequences, which I think are not so clear yet. http://foeme.org/www/?module=take_actions&record_id=18

      Yes, see you soon!! (I hope Jerusalem won’t disappoint you… it has many ugly areas… but it is doubtlessly a fascinating city.)
      HUGS and good night.
      Heila

      Like

      1. Thank you so much for the link dear Heila. I read the page and really can’t see the problem as the pros outweigh the cons. If humanity can’t fix the problem, maybe an earthquake will and cut a channel to the Dead Sea.

        Thanks for the warning about Jerusalem. To be expected.

        Good night my friend. Sweet dreams ❤

        Like

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