Monday, January 11, 2010

The Dead Sea/Pictures...another LONG post.

This weekend, we took the kids for their first trip down to the Dead Sea. Yanal and I had been there a couple of times years ago. It's always a beautiful drive down and through the mountains. It's one of those destinations, which are a truly unique experience.

I have to mention, Jordan is so interesting. It is only a 40 minute drive from our home in Amman. You can drive out of this mostly modern, hugely populated city (2.5 million people) and travel about 20 minutes where there are only small villages scattered miles from each other. Continue driving a few minutes later and for as far as you can see there are these huge barren mountains with Bedouins living in their tents and shepherding their lamb and goats across the brown, dry hills.

Then you reach the bottom of the Jordan Valley and their is life again. Down here the weather is perfect year round for farming. They farm any and everything: bananas, mangoes, fava beans, corn, tomatoes, oranges, apples, green onions, literally anything you would find in the produce section at your local grocery store can and is grown down in the valley.

As you pass by the farms, farmers are selling their produce on the side of the road - this is also common all over Jordan. You see small towns, mud homes, and homes made from cloth. Sheep, lamb and goats graze the land as their owner rides a donkey behind them to steer them in the right direction.

As you start coming closer to the Dead Sea. Billboards start appearing (obviously for the tourists) advertising The Gap, Tony Roma's, The Pizza Company, which all back in Amman. Billboards are also advertising the large hotels and spas that are built along the Dead Sea shoreline. What I find interesting about the hotel and spa billboards is the pictures are of men getting out of the water and occasionally you will see a silhouette of possibly a woman getting out of the water...this is to keep things culturally appropriate as all people pass by these advertisements.

Finally, you know you are close to the sea when you start seeing traditionally dressed camels and horses on the sides of the road. Their owners are never far away, usually sitting in whatever shade they can find drinking tea and waiting for someone (like us) to drive by and want a ride on their camel.

As we had the kids with us, they must ride a camel, so we stopped. We stopped in a parking lot, with the sea as a backdrop on one side and the mountains in the distance on the other side of the road. The parking lot was filled with decorative camels and horses along with men selling coffee, tea and hookas (you know, the tobacco bong). Omar was the first on the camel as Aisha was frighten by either the camel or the hundreds of flies flying around the camel. Omar on the other little man...not afraid....totally loved it! He had a blast sitting on the camel as I tried getting the other camel and horse jockeys away from me so I can take a few pictures of him. After sometime of warming up to the camel, Aisha too loved the camel and she went for a ride with me.

Being that the sea was near us, Aisha saw the water and wanted to go swimming, so we went to the local beach to ask about entrance fees for the beach and the pools for our next visit. Kids should not 'swim' in the Dead Sea because the salt concentration is so high (30%). If the water gets into their eyes...ouch...and if they drink (accidentally of course) a small amount of the salt water it is deadly.

On our way back we took a scenic route through the farms and up the mountains from another direction. There was a small river/large stream that followed the road we traveled, so we saw 'lots' of vegetation and birds. We also saw many locals who were out picnicking, grilling and playing in the water with their families and children.

Here are some fun facts about the Dead Sea and websites to learn more:
- Lowest point on the earth
- 422 meters, 1385 feet below sea level
- 375 meters, 1240 feet deep
- 42 miles long and 11 miles wide
- One of the world's saltiest bodies of water
- 33.7% salinity
- 8.6 times saltier than the ocean
- Because of the salt, everyone floats in the water. (It almost feels like you are swimming in oil)
- Nothing lives in the Dead Sea (except very few bacteria)
- Weak UV rays due to sea level
- Highest oxygen content in the world due to high barometric pressure
- Minerals found in the water
- Chloride, Bromide, Sulfate, Bicarbonate, Calcium, Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium
- Salts in the water
-Calcium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, sodium chloride
- The rocks on the shoreline look like they are covered with 2 inches of ice, but it is actually the minerals and salts that have built up on the rock. Boats that have dared to ride on the sea also have to literally chip off the salt and mineral deposits from the motors and sides of the boat.
- Health Benefits
-Because of the mineral concentrations, the low UV rays, high O2 concentration, low pollens and allergens, and warm weather year long people suffering from psoriasis, eczema, cystic fibrosis, asthma, osteoarthritis, tendinitis, just to list a few.
- Dead Sea mud is spread on the body, massaged in, or used as a face mask.


  1. Very interesting! I love the camel pictures! I had no idea the Dead Sea was so deep. And, tell me about the UV rays, why are they so weak? Because the sun is so far away?

  2. Machallah, this summer I am going back to Egypt for vacation, and I told hubby that Dead sea is def going to be one of our tourist destinations along with the red sea. It will be my first time going with both my children who will be 1 and 5 before I went alone. So I love reading your blog to get insight on live in the ME with children.

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  4. Salam Bethany, I have an Aisha and an Omar as well! SubhanAllah. Lovely pictures! I enjoyed your blog. Um Omar from SistersinAmman.