Monday, September 17, 2007

The Lowest,Most Majestic Place on Earth: The Dead Sea

Yesterday my wife and I took the boys through the barren beauty of the Judean Hills, all the way down (and I mean down; the dead sea basin is literally the lowest point on earth) to the Dead Sea. The trip out of Jerusalem is itself remarkable for the natural beauty one sees along the way. The bronze and rusty reds of the rocks and mountains reflect natures vicissitudes over millions of years. As one approaches the sea itself, Jordan's red mountains reflect lambently on the still and ancient waters.

We stopped at Ein Gedi Spa where the boys enjoyed a swim in the pool before venturing down to mud heaven (my pregnant wife Iris--pronounced 'ear-is' remained poolside, for the powerful salts and minerals are not recommended for those carrying new life). The three of us plastered ourselves in mud and then had the obligatory picture of the three 'mudmen' taken. Then on to the trolley for the final voyage to the sea itself. Oily, indescribably salty; delicious. Woe to all with any open cuts! We floated blissfully for a time and then made our way back to the pool, where languages from Swedish, to Portuguese, to French, and Spanish permeated the air, suggesting that the Europeans don't mind availing themselves of our natural wonders.

Next we drove down to ancient Masada. Alas, it was too late for the climb--or cable cars--so the boys had to settle for a view from the foot of the massive mountain retreat and a brief explanation. The orange ball of fire in the sky was beginning its nightly repose. There is no place on earth more beautiful to observe a sunset!

We continued back towards Jerusalem and stopped at a local kiosk for a coffee. There was an army patrol jeep with a turreted machine gun mounted on the back. Three soldiers in Melueem (reserve duty) saw the boys' fascination and waved them over. They graciously invited them into the jeep, allowed Eemma (mother) to take pictures, and even let the boys sit behind the machine gun while being photoed. More pictures with the boys in helmets and flak jackets.

Rak b'Yisrael (only in Israel)! Pleasantries were exchanged and we were back on the road. To the boys' great disappointment, the camels were nowhere to be found, and the boys were so looking to riding one. Something for another day.

Later this morning, I will be touring the country via helicopter, courtesy of The Israel Project. More on that venture later.
David Brumer
The Dead Sea

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