Sunday, 16 December 2012

Dead Sea

Life in the chemical soup
Monday 26 November: Israel National Trail abandoned, I’m heading west to the Dead Sea and out of range of Hamas rocket fire. Ein Gedi’s small public beach is where I go for a dip. It’s a very strange sensation to lie back and find your feet and legs shooting up to the surface. The water is actually a poisonous chemical mix of sulphur, magnesium, calcium, bromide and potassium, to name but a few. I’m actually quite relieved to get out of the sea and have a fresh water shower, two in fact, to cleanse the mineral salts from my skin. Ein Gedi is primarily a nature reserve and long-horned Ibex abound, several climbing trees to feed on the upper leaves, it’s an amazing sight.
Tuesday 27: Relocating down the coast to beneath the Roman fortification of Massada I take the bus into the hotel resort of En Boquet as this is where the tourist office certifies that you have been to the lowest point on the Earth’s surface.
Wednesday 28: Rising at 5pm I hike up to Massada fort to see the sunrise. Massada looms high in the Israeli psyche as it’s where a squad of Jewish zealots once held out against the legions of Rome before committing suicide. Brown wing-tipped Tristram’s Starlings now survive in this remote place. The sunrise is not great but the views of the wind-sculptured rock formations beneath are so fantastic that in the afternoon I stroll into the ‘lunar’ landscape for a picnic lunch.
Thursday 29: Bus north to Bit ha-Arava junction where I wait for a bus to Beit She’am. Here I miss the bus to the Jordanian frontier, so after lunch I walk the five miles or so to the border post. Following fairly painless formalities I enter the Hashamite Kingdom of Jordan but I’m miles away from anywhere and no one else is here. So, I’m forced to hire a relatively expensive, 22 Jordanian Dinar (about £20), private taxi to Irbid for an inter-city bus to Amman, a long day. 
Slideshow of the Dead Sea coast.

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