the final Jordan chapter
So, we’ve been around Jordan, from Amman to Petra and back up to Mount Nebo. It’s time for the final Jordan chapter as we make our way down to the Dead Sea. Before I go on, I must just mention how we seem to have caught a bit of a bug relating to travelling to Israel to explore some of the places you only read about in the Bible (and on CNN if you watch that of course). Standing on top of Mount Nebo looking out over Jerusalem towards the birthplace of so many religions, you can’t help but be tempted to do the short crossing and experience it for yourselves. We were also lucky to have met a young man who had just travelled there on his way to Jordan and told us about Bethlehem, Galilee, Jerusalem and other such fascinating places. He said that security was insanely tight and he was interrogated many times at various check points, but other than that, a very smooth trip. We were also advised by our Jordanian guide that it’s a simple day or overnight trip there and back and not that expensive… the seed has been planted!
So once we descended the mountain, it was off to locate our resort on the Dead Sea. Driving there, it was somewhat comforting to have a typical Dubai-like moment to remind us that we’re not far from our new home. The signs were completely hopeless to get into the road to the resort so we completely missed them, had to go through the random obligatory check point given we’re so close to the border, and then of course there was no way to get back to the turn off without driving another 5km around a crazy u-turn part of the highway to get back. This of course meant another go at the random obligatory check point before our driver spotted the jauntily placed little sign pointing to a service road to the resort. It was then a long, winding road through, what looked like people’s back yards, washing and garbage tips before we finally came upon the gates of our lovely hotel – an oasis among a sea of nothing really.
A quick drop off of the bags and it was off to wait for the “bus that definitely comes every half hour”. I knew as soon as those words were out of the receptionist’s mouth that this bus was never going to run on the half hour, but played along and we sprinted down in our swim gear in order to not miss the half hour bus. Sure enough, we get to the bus stop and there’s a very sweaty man who looks like he’s been waiting a while, still waiting for the bus that was meant to come. Another Dubai moment as a guard walks past us, looks completely baffled when we ask about the bus that was meant to come on the half hour, but quickly recovers and assures us as though his life depends on it that the bus will come in 5 minutes.
Sweaty, hot, baking in the sun and running out of water, lovely hubby is getting increasingly tense as we wait. We watch a couple of other guests start to wander off on the path in the direction of the sea and debate whether to believe the bewildered guard. I am of course arguing that the guard should really know and that we should really believe him – I have still not quite grasped the hierarchy of this place! Lovely hubby argues that “that dude had no idea what you were talking about”, to the solemn nods of the rest of our party and we decide to schlepp it down to the water on our own. Maybe the bus will pick us up on the way? How far can it be hey?
Now, the amazing thing is, there’s a path that does actually take you straight to the beach. Very simple to follow, well paved, all the makings of a lovely stroll to the amazing Dead Sea. What is exceptionally odd about this place is that it’s, well, dead? I know, that sounds very obvious and as thought i have stated something that should be blindingly obvious. However, when I imagined the Dead Sea, knowing all of the five star resorts that line its shores, I guess I was thinking it would be more like a seaside resort with boulevards, hotels, parks and places to stroll. This place is literally a total wasteland, dotted with fancy resorts. All we needed on our walk down was a tumbleweed and it would have been complete. As it was, we had a sooking, whinging, almost 2 year old who was hot, cranky, tired and not happy about walking to the beach. I think, regardless of what manufactured ambiance Jordan could have conjured up at this second, we still would have felt like we were walking the path to hell.
So finally, we make it to this strange beach. Lots of empty beach chairs and crumbling umbrellas are forgiven when the lovely man at the towel shed hands us each a crisp, cold bottle of water. Spirits rising, we head down towards the water to find a chair to set the Chubs up on with his cars. We’ve been warned not to put our heads underwater and so feel it’s best to try and keep him engaged on the beach rather than risking him diving in. In fact, there is a list as long as your arm about what you can and can’t do in the water including that you should get in by squatting with your back to the water and then fall on your back.
I’m actually a little bit nervous as we head down to the water’s edge to slather ourselves in the amazing, healing mud of the beach and wonder if my limbs would actually crust up and not bend if I leave the mud on as we walk back to the hotel? Ms T and Lovely Hubby are already frolicking it up and bouncing around in the water squealing at how weird it is and I decide to take the plunge – backwards with my head out of the water, arms up and covered in strange grey coloured slop. Not an awkward looking site at all.
I have to say, it really is the strangest feeling in the world. It’s like lying back into a deck chair, except there’s nothing holding you up but water. I actually had to really press my feet down to be able to change my position and swim. If you go out far enough, you can push your feet to a standing position and literally stand there like you are levitating. So, so very funny. We took lots of pics of each other in various positions of elevation from the water and bobbed around enjoying the sensation. Lovely Hubby of course had to point out the poor lady relaxing next to us. She was particularly blessed in the bust department, something Lovely Hubby tends to notice a lot. However this was particularly noticeable. It’s not just people who float in the dead sea. It’s their appendages and glands as well. We were actually a little concerned that this poor lady was going to be suffocated by her own personal floatation devices as they floated up around her cheeks while she was trying to swim. There are not many moments in life where I’m glad that I was blessed with small mosquito bites for a chest – in fact, I don’t even think that mine noticed that we had entered water. But at least I could breathe, and see, and float without having to push down the equivalent of two beach balls.
The other strange thing is that you find that you have cuts and scratches you never knew were there. The sea is sooooo salty that the salt gets into every crevice of your body and sizzles away. You certainly know if you have been lying there on the couch watching sport, innocently scratching away at various appendages – or so I am told by a reliable male source. The mud also turns your skin a faint orange colour. We all emerged looking somewhat like we had paid for a very bad fake tan on the way here. And if the water splashes into your mouth, watch out. Lovely Hubby of course was the tosser being silly and splashing, and so of course got a small amount of water in his mouth. The massive disclaimer sign at the top of the beach said that if you swallow water you must let the lifeguard know immediately so he can administer first aid and get you to drink copious amounts of water. Lovely hubby certainly drank a bit of water to try and rid his mouth of the exceptionally salty taste, but felt that he would have more luck with some fizzy hops back at the hotel – a very fitting end to a salty, freakish but awesome swim!
And when you finally drag yourself out of the water, your skin really does feel amazing. This place is truly incredible. In some strange way, the fact that they have left it largely undeveloped actually feels really appropriate. Jordan is a relatively poor country and it’s almost as though they have made a conscious decision not to tart, what is once of their biggest tourist attractions, up too much. This would potentially make it a pretentious, unattainable haven for rich foreigners, as has happened to so many other places in this region. We saw locals coming down to scoop up their containers of mud to take home, mingling with the tourists, all against the backdrop of a semi-wasteland which is actually very appropriate for an area called the Dead Sea!
We started to walk back up the beach to see that the bus had finally arrived and could take us back to the hotel – very, very glad we didn’t wait for it! High fives all round for lovely hubby! We headed back to enjoy a swim in the cool but very much less exciting hotel pool before enjoying yet another lovely buffet dinner. Miss Sparky rates everywhere we go now on the quality of the buffet, which is amusing given it usually comes down to the dessert buffet for the final ratings!
The next morning, it was back through some more beautiful countryside as we climbed out of the valley to head to the airport. An amazing trip.. An amazing country! Really lovely, warm, welcoming people, stunning scenery and of course, incredible history. That about sums up Jordan. I cannot recommend it highly enough and would certainly add it to your bucket list if not already on there.
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Have a fabulous week!