Our Trip to the Dead Sea

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On our last afternoon in Palestine-Israel, we visited Jericho and then the Dead Sea. Unlike many of the places we have visited, the Dead Sea does not figure prominently in biblical narratives. Since the shore of this body of water is the lowest land point on earth at  1300 feet below sea level, the water has no where to drain. Fed by the Jordan River, 7 million tons of water in the Dead Sea evaporate daily leaving many minerals behind.  Aristotle, Queen of Sheba, King Solomon and Cleopatra were all familiar with the sea’s medicinal value and many companies market its precious minerals.

It was 104 degrees on the Friday afternoon that we visited. While it was extremely hot, a constant light breeze cooled us off. However, the changing rooms with no ventilation were sweltering. We were greeted by a Speedo clad man who  offered to give us Dead Sea clay massages for $10. I put my belongings down and got in the water. The sea bed was not nearly as rocky as internet reviewers had claimed. I reached my hands down to feel the bottom. At places it was rocky and sandy, but mostly it was clay like. I tried to sit down so I could examine this earth more clearly, but my bottom kept floating up. I finally just gave into the floating. It was so easy! I never imagined it would be so much fun.

I got out of the water for a break and “Mr. Speedo Massager” was right there trying to convince me I would love his massage. I avoided him for as long as I could, but finally yielded. I had done a lot of walking during our trip and my feet deserved a treat. However, the massage was much too quick and only covered my feet and legs. At the end, he put some clay on my face and said it was a bonus. I really did not want it on my face, but he had it on before I could protest. I let the clay dry and then got back in the water. Everything was fine until I started sweating and some of the clay got in my eyes. My eyes started stinging  like they do when I get sunscreen or chlorinated water in them, so I could not see. Fortunately, “Mr. Speedo” noticed I was having difficulty and came down to lead me out the water, up the stairs, and to a hose where he rinsed out my eyes. I had some redness in the corner of my eyes, but otherwise, I was back to normal. It was the end of my Dead Sea adventure, but not the end of my reflection of the politics of this place.

If you did not already know, you would have no idea that the Dead Sea is in the West Bank. This means that it is Palestinian land and should be controlled by the Palestinian Authority; however, it is another resource in Palestine from which Palestinians do not profit. Israel has taken control of most of the prominent tourist sites in the area – the northern shore of the Dead Sea, Wadi Qelt, the Qumran caves, the springs of the ‘Ein Fashkha reserve, and the Qasr Alyahud site (where John the Baptist baptized Jesus). This appropriation of Palestinian land is in open defiance of international law and overwhelming international condemnation. Although we had engaged in an afternoon of fun, the politics of Israeli apartheid was still apparent.

Pamela Y. Cook


2 thoughts on “Our Trip to the Dead Sea

  1. I cannot find the words that I would like to say. I think of some of the conversations i have had with Ahmed reading your blog and seeing the pictures makes those conversations more real. Thank you Pamela for sharing this with us.

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