Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dead Sea

Not much more you can say in a title without trivialising the experience. And I am not even sure what to say about the place that has not been said before. We all know you float like an apple in a barrel in this water. In fact, trying to swim on your front demonstrates to the locals (all hiding in the shade since its 45 degrees out here) that there is an idiot in the water - the buoyancy flips you over and your legs won't stay down. So there you are thrashing around trying to look like you have it all under control. The two others in the water just sat on the sandy bottom and looked at me in silence, the old guy shaking his head every now and then. Soon the stuff was in my eyes and the fooling around stopped as acid ripped them out of my head. I weighed up letting it work its way out or running over the broken glass, which is the salt encrusted beach, to get my towel. I stayed in the water. Floating around is the key. Just give in to it and let it hold you up. I am not sure reading a book is really that feasible - I value my books too much. It feels like light machine oil. Indeed, if there is anything tactile about you then this place is heaven. But the surprise was that despite the slight oily texture the water is very clear. No vegetation to foul it up and discolour it I guess. The surface tension is so "tight" (is that the right word?) bubbles created in the aforementioned thrashing around sound like rice bubbles snapping and popping. Oh, and by the way those couple of small shaving nicks from yesterday now feel like major wounds. The blueness of the lake, fuses with the distant hills lifting towards Jerusalem which in turn fuse into the furnace sky. (Jericho is over my left shoulder by the way). Blue on blue. The air is heavy and oppressive, a sensation less of humidity and more of weight. Salt crystals form on the waters edge. White and bright in the shallow water, when crushed in your fingers they turn to salty sludge and dissolve. Stones have salt crystals growing around them in the shallows. Not unlike quartz. And the sand from the bottom when stirred up takes ten minutes to settle again. Thirty minutes was enough - I was going to turn into a pillar of salt if I was not careful. Rinsed off, got dressed then had a lunch of goat's head and rice. I think I have acquired the taste!

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