AN ODYSSEY OF SELF-DISCOVERY
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Dead Sea: On a high at the lowest point on Earth

It’s funny how sometimes miscalculations take you to the right place at the right time. The journey continued on from Aqaba and while everyone was probably looking forward to experience the lowest point on Earth, I was looking forward to.. well, food – the downside of having breakfast at 6 am. Now, I love trying the local food but I was also happy to see a familiar sign not too far away – McDonald’s. There’s also something exciting about eating at one of the world’s largest fast food chains outside of home – no? Okay! I grabbed a burger to go and we were off. At last, I was on the same page as everybody else – the Dead Sea. But before that, there was another adventure in store.

We continued on our road trip via the Desert Highway, admiring the nothingness that surrounded us. After about two hours, we stopped for lunch and I’ll remember it less for the food but more for what transpired. While everyone was busy enjoying the food and the conversations, the two girls from Singapore quietly told us something they had only recently discovered. Their return flight wasn’t at 7 am the next morning as they had initially thought but instead was at 7 pm that day itself i.e. in about four hours. I still remember the look on Jihad’s face as they disclosed that information. He didn’t say it but I’m pretty sure he thought, “Are you kidding me?”. He’s one of calmest persons I’ve come across. He took a minute to process and said, “Okay guys, change of plans. We’re dropping them off at the airport first and then going to the Dead Sea.” With just a few hours left for the flight, there wasn’t much room for alternatives. Luckily for them, we were closer to the airport than we were to the Dead Sea but it was still two hours away. As for me, I was expecting some more drama in the next four hours but fortunately (or unfortunately), that didn’t happen. We were able to drop them off at the airport with a little less than two hours to go for the flight.

But wait, what about the Dead Sea? It took us another two-ish hours to get there – a bit longer than it should have but we were finally there, at Earth’s lowest point. The surface of Dead Sea is 1,412 feet below sea level, making it Earth’s lowest elevation on land. As I stood there at the shoreline, I could feel a sense of calm. I closed my eyes to just be; just be in that moment and nowhere else – certainly one of the best moments of my trip. As I opened my eyes, I realized that on the horizon was the West Bank. Almost immediately, my mind went back to the conversation I had with Jihad earlier. The calmness around me was in contrast to what goes on on the other side, the land he calls home – Palestine. As these thoughts were running through my head, I realized something else – we had gotten there at just the right time to catch the sunset. It’s funny how sometimes miscalculations take you to the right place at the right time. It was now time for a dip in the ocean that’s unlike any other.

Floating in the Dead Sea is something I’d highly recommend experiencing at least once. It was surreal, it was effortless but it wasn’t without its challenges. The water at Dead Sea is not only thicker than regular seawater, but also feels greasier. It has so much salt (over 8x saltier) that even a few accidental gulps are enough to make you sick. Because of it’s high salt content, common wisdom says that it is impossible to drown in the Dead Sea but you’d be surprised to know how many people have managed to defy that common wisdom. Thankfully, I didn’t otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. As I lay there on my back, enjoying my ‘high’ at Earth’s lowest point, I noticed some excitement among the people along the shore. I ignored the noise initially. In other words, I didn’t let it affect my ‘inner peace’ but then I noticed something strange – all of a sudden, everyone was rubbing mud all over themselves (including the face). Upon inquiry, I was told that the mud from Dead Sea is really good for the skin and has amazing healing properties. So then, did I do it too? Well, I was apprehensive at first but..

..nothing beats rubbing mud all over yourself and floating in the Dead Sea. I can’t say how long lasting the effects were but my skin definitely felt softer immediately after. I got out of the water and as I watched the sun set on yet another soul-stirring adventure, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What would it be like to experience this from the other side?” For now, it was time to head back to Amman. 

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