Monday, May 18, 2009

Float on...

The Dead Sea is known for a few things: incredibly, strangely buoyant waters with salinity six times greater than the ocean, being the lowest point on earth, and the mineral rich mud that even the most squeamish tourist seems willing to smear all over themselves.

We went down to the sea and it was as flat and glossy as a mill pond. We'd been warned not to shave; that we'd quickly discover if we had any small cuts in our skin, but I'd gone ahead and de-fuzzed my legs anyway. If people are going to have to look at me in my swimsuit, the least I can do is to be presentable.

I felt a slight tingling, but no real problem. Thomas, however, grabbed his little bottom, shrieked and charged back out of the water, never to return. Well, it's really only 2/3 water, the rest being dissolved solids. The clear oily swirls in the Sea are calcium chloride, and there is an occasional chunk of black bitumen floating by. You didn't need to get any of the water in your mouth to taste it, with the high levels of magnesium chloride. Need I say there are no fish?

The one thing you did not want to do was to get that stuff in your eyes.

Salts crystalised on rocks on the shore of the Dead Sea

The waters themselves were cool with a sensation almost soapy, and you could sit back in them like a loungechair. People were reading newspapers as they lolled back in the waters, or at least pretending to do so and getting their photos taken.

Swimming was a challenge,though a fun one, and immediately I thought they need to have a Dead Sea Duathalon. I rather hope someone does, I think it'd be an interesting feat and you can't tell me there aren't athletes who'd do it. Me, for instance!

Bethy was over the moon excited that she'd finally learned how to float. She would later say that was the best part of the trip for her, though occasionally she'd change her mind and say it was watching the cartoon Ben 10 on cable TV. We couldn't stop grinning at the novelty of being held up and cushioned by the water.

For once we didn't have to worry about kids and water safety; I'm pretty sure it would be impossible to drown unless you really, really wanted to. Even then, I think it would be a challenge. We got pickled and slimed for awhile, then splashed out to try out the renowned Dead Sea Mud.

The mineral-rich mud is harvested it from a variety of sites around the sea for the hotels and beauty products. We had a big square container of it and globbed it on. I was trying out a scientific experiment and left the salts in my hair, and smeared the mud over that. It's a look I am sure will be all the rage next season:

Bethy was also very into the mud, and Mike dutifully smeared it on much of his persona. Not Thomas, though. He was disgusted with all of us, and circled the mud container, picking up bits of mud and carefully putting them back in. It was a balancing act for him to clamber up there in his cleaning attempts, but he managed not to fall in.

We went back into the sea to wash off, then under the seaside showers. However, washing off the dried mud and salts was not the easiest thing in the world, and in fact, I found my little experiment had gone horribly wrong. My hair did not feel like my hair. It was, in fact, only after days and days of repeated washings that it finally felt like hair again.

We spent the rest of the day in the extensive pools, on the water slide and beneath the waterfalls. Bethy duplicated her feat of floating on her back in the pool waters and was ecstatic. Mike and I availed ourselves of the poolside bar service, entirely relaxed, lazing on the lounge chairs and oversized hotel towels while the kids frollicked in the wading pool. The palms waved gently in the breeze, the sun was warm, sheer bliss.


dorothy said...

Sigh....nothing else to say as I load the truck with a ton of old chimney bricks and head off into the heat to dispose of them....

Julia said...

I LOVE the fact that Bethy learned how to float (and repeated the process in regular water) and that Thomas is much to neat to play in mud.

What do you suppose is the reason for the funky salt-mud hair incident?

Sariya Rashid said...

I can't believe you put the mud in your gorgeous, yet oh so curly hair, lol!!

*Paula* said...

It sounds like bliss! 'cept for the mud ;) My Thomas would have the same reaction!

sherrip said...

Oh Natalie,

You are so like a kid, sometimes..."hmmm...if it's good for my skin what about my hair?? Let's try it!"

You make me chuckle!