Friday, June 8, 2012

The Dead Sea Comes Alive

Today I took a trip to the Dead Sea. The lowest point on Earth. I went with two goals in mind. 1 - Float in the super-saturated-salty water. 2 - Avoid being burnt to a crisp by the intense desert sun. (Being supremely white I usually have a problem with overexposure.) I met my two goals but thankfully my expectations were blown out of the dead water and I got way more out of the trip than what I had sought.

On the way to the Dead Sea... my first Camel sighting!!! I spotted a few on the side of the road just outside of Amman. However as the journey continued, I found out where they had all been hiding - where all things go when they want to get away for a good time - the beach! At an increasing interval a lone camel would be lying on the sidewalk along the road to the sea. My friend and constant tour guide told me that they were there for tourists to ride or to take pictures with. (I'm sorry but there are times when I still don't know how to avoid ending a sentence without a preposition) The camel's owners were simply out of site seeking shade beneath some tree or in a nearby hut. Made me wonder how far I could get if I just jumped on the back of one quickly and tried to make off with him; little mid-East camel jacking for a fun side-adventure. My friend didn't let me stop.

Apparently it's a law that you can't swim in the Dead Sea except for in designated areas. My understanding is that it has to do with the propriety of bathing in public. Thus, to swim in the sea you must pay to enter one of the waterfront resorts or hotels and use their designated areas. I confirmed first hand though, that you wouldn't want to take a dip unless you had a shower immediately present. The amount of salt and other minerals in the water is so intense that your skin starts to burn slightly after being in the water for too long.

The best way to experience the swim in the sea is to first coat yourself in a layer of Dead Sea mud. The mud has loads of minerals that are apparently great for your skin and the gritty texture reminded me of an exfoliating scrub. Some people would actually just rub themselves up with the mud and then rinse off. But who would want to miss out on the float test?

Float test indeed! I love water and I love swimming and floating in it. My skin and bones though pretty much just sink in pools and lakes. I do much better in the ocean and I've had the fun opportunity of try out my buoyancy in the Great Salt Lake. However that all pales in comparison to feeling like a human bobber after wading into the super saturated waters of the Dead Sea.

Ever notice the wavy lines in water after you've dissolved a ton of sugar into it? That's what you get when you disturb the Dead's waters and because there really aren't any waves lapping the rocks of the shore, you're the only thing that would make any noise or ripples in the water.  It was a little strange to see. Otherwise though, it was crystal clear and a beautiful blue-green color. It didn't have a noticeable salty smell but then again I had just rubbed mud from the sea floor all over myself so I may have been numb to the smell by that time. The water was actually slippery to touch and you come out feeling like you've been doused in a nice olive oil. Lets keep track of what senses I've covered now- sight, sound, smell, and touch.

Should I keep with the science theme? Yup, I tasted it! Bad mistake! Bad mistake! I should have left science back in grade school. "Oh it burns!" That's a movie quote I just don't know which one. But it did in fact burn. I'm guessing from the sheer amount of salt. It also tasted extremely bitter. Is it bases that taste bitter? My conclusion - the Dead Sea is a base, one that is totally fun to float in but not for too long or your skin may start to fall off. I didn't stay long enough to find out. At the start of this adventure I had set that goal of protecting my skin after all.

So that was my dead sea experience. However there was way more to this day than just the water. There was in fact dancing and that's how the Dead Sea trip started! See... the whole point for my friends to take the trip down to the sea was to go to a party. Mine was the sea itself but who's going to pass up on a party?

I wish I had a video crew with me because we could have filmed Arabs on Spring Break for MTV. It was a private promotion party for Amstel. I'm not sure why they needed to have a promotional party because it's been the only beer I've found on tap in this country but nonetheless here we were in the middle of the desert, next to the deadest body of water on earth, truly coming alive and celebrating life.

Music is a must to make any party a success. The better the music, the better the party. And where there is music, there is dancing, especially when encouraged in such a way by the beverages of the host. Nothing about this dancing was textbook and I'm not sure any of it could actually be taught in a class. However the beauty of dance is that it is supposed to be a fluid expression of your reaction to a sound or feeling. That's exactly what this was and it's often what is lost or overlooked when trying to teach or learn how to dance.

I believe too often the I've lost site of the purpose of dance when trying to get a student to learn a box step or get them to use proper footwork in a "three and feather." Those things are definitely useful in building a set of tools which in the end can free a person to express themselves more clearly. Much like a child learning words to express that they are upset rather than just screaming their fool head off. However if the purpose - to express a feeling - is lost in learning steps or techniques, then I've lost the heart and soul of dance and probably the heart and soul of the student dancer.

I hope that I can always be uber-buoyant in life, always rising back to the surface if I ever begin to slip below. While I continue teaching, I'll attempt to always remember the true purpose of dance and if I do start to forget, maybe a bitter taste in my mouth will be all the reminder I need to return to the surface of things.

I'm not sure of what a blog length should be but this does seem rather long. I think I'll try for something shorter here forward. Any feedback would be appreciated.


  1. i don't think this is a long blog post at all. it's perfect. good amount of words and photos. looks like fun! as i'm typing this my fingers and toes are freezing in the house because it's only in the 60's and the heat is turned off for the summer on may 1st- i wish i were there in the sun!!!

  2. A blog has no length, no rhyme or reason. it's you portraying what you want the reader to feel, see, etc...all the other senses we encounter. I knew you would enjoy "The Sea" just as my friend did. Seems like your adventures are great although I am now interested and waiting to see if and when you take hold of your first camel, or someone else's for that matter!! Can't wait for the next posting and your pics! Sherry

  3. How fantastic! Getting a high from the earth's lowest.. water bed... Cool! Lucky you.. to experience it :) Please don't write less... More is always more when it comes to sharing wonderful experiences. How did you make out with the exposure to the sun? Love the pics... especially pic #3 ;) But I only recognize it is you... from those ... "corporate" shoes you always wear, lol! ;) I appreciate, very much, what you wrote about dance... what it truly is all about. The beauty of the thing is that if you recognize that... it also means you're an excellent teacher of the same :) Keep smiling... and writing.... lots! :) mwaah