Living it up at the Dead Sea

Floating in the Dead Sea in December 2004

No matter how many times you’ve heard people describe it, you will not be prepared for the curious sensation of floating in the Dead Sea. It almost reminds me of riding a camel – it doesn’t look like anything you can’t handle, but once you’re there, you feel precarious, flustered, and almost giddy.

Now that we’re in Amman, the Dead Sea is just an easy day trip away. We headed out early last Saturday morning to Amman’s Muhajireen bus station. Once there, we found the right bus (a
Happy Journey-style vehicle), boarded promptly, and then waited almost an hour for it to fill with passengers so it could leave while the assistant driver chain-smoked happily right under the No Smoking sign.

When we finally did get going, it was a fun ride through the beautiful Jordanian countryside. We passed through a few checkpoints, due to the proximity of the border with Israel, and also lots of remote villages with men and boys kicking back on the front porches of their homes and shops, passing a lazy Saturday morning.

The bus dropped us off at Amman Beach, about two kilometers past all the hotel beaches. Amman Beach is public, but charges money to get in, which translates into women being able to swim there comfortably (I would never, ever recommend a free public beach to women, unless they enjoy being eye candy for shabaab). The foreigner price is 4 JD, but with our university ID cards, they discounted it to 2.5 JD.

Once you’re on the beach, it’s just a matter of setting up camp under one of the numerous beach umbrellas, renting a few lounge chairs, changing into your swimsuit, and heading to the water. If you forgot a swimsuit, you can buy one there, and even rent a towel, too.

It’s impossible to swim in the Dead Sea. It’s all you can do to keep your balance while you bob up and down in the tepid water. And as soon as you come out, rinse off with fresh water. Amman Beach has outdoor shower spigots as well as private showering areas.

Unfortunately, it’s a bit tricky to get anywhere by public transportation from the Dead Sea. You’re welcome to stand out on the highway until someone picks you up, but passing traffic is sometimes sparse. We opted to hire a guy with a van to take us back to Amman. He got us there in a jiffy, and even gave Miriam a stuffed monkey that was lying on the floor of the van.

We weren’t sure if he meant it for her to play with during the duration of our trip, or as a gift, but rather than putting him in an awkward position and asking him, we discreetly left it behind.
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Fork in the road

Sitting pretty