Sea(s) the Day


The Dead Sea. The most ominous sounding thing you get to hear about as a child. The word "dead" was enough to give me nightmares., but being the encyclopaedia enthusiast that I was while growing with the absence of Google, I was curious about this creepy body of water with zero casualties. How do you just float? What about a rock? Does that float too? Mini me was that annoying little child who would not stop with the questions and was forever the annoying 4 year old who asked why the sky was blue and whose every single sentence began with a why. Since I grew up on a darker side and had love and appreciation for all things gory, adult me was ecstatic about this impending trip Dead Sea floatation test. And I just couldn't wait... 

Jordan has a lot of mind-blowing landscapes that give you a ton of wow moments, but really nothing compares to the Dead Sea. Before our little troupe checked into the Jordan Valley Marriott Resort and Spa, we were road trippin' from Wadi Rum to the Dead Sea. Our bus stopped over a cliff at one point of time and gave us a fabulous vantage point of the Dead Sea. And I was already in love. Our guide explained the recent crisis about the decreasing water level and the conservation process. It made that moment a lot more emotional. After we checked in we dined at the Italian restaurant to plan exactly when we would hit the beach and float our asses off, but I think I was the most impatient one out of the lot. I could barely eat my pizza as I tried to get the group to assemble ASAP and was reminded of the age old "don't swim after eating" rule and I could did everything in my power to explain we weren't going to be swimming. We. Would. Be. Floating!

Soon we were off to our rooms for personal time and I was still hung up on running towards the Dead Sea already. I was already unpacked, in my bathing suit and out of the door almost an hour before our pre-decided call time. It was a good thing that the Marriott we stayed at had a huge property and a lot of things to see. I wondered why they had 4 different pools; including an indoor pool when they also had a private beach to the Dead Sea. Wouldn't people rather hit the beach instead? It felt strange.
Either way, I was one of the first people at our meet up point and when two others showed up, I insisted we proceed instead of wasting time while waiting for the rest to show up.

My first contact with the sea was pretty amazing. Since it wasn't a sandy beach and not even an actual sea, but a lake; the surface was more rocky and filled with large smooth pebbles, it was not very pleasant to walk, so it was good that the hotel provided transparent footwear that made walking easier. Of course the footwear was optional and on a first come basis and since there were limited pairs in different sizes, a lot of people didn't manage to snag one for themselves. But knowing my own clumsiness mixed with how eager I was to jump right into the water, without those shoes, I would have slipped and fallen on my ass multiple times already. 
What surprised me was how warm the water was. I guess it had a lot to do with how this was one of the lowest points on earth and the water was naturally heated with the earth's surface. I merely took 4-5 steps into the water and I was already thigh deep as the beach had a very sudden decline. The minute I sat down, I floated and it was a battle to bring my knees down and try to stand in the water. It was impossible to even touch my toes to the rocky surface. I just floated. I saw a few others also try to touch the bottom with great failure. Some lost balance and fell over sideways and even needed assistance to get up. Another fell head first into the salty water and was treated with a face full (and eye full) of it as well and had to be led out as they were momentarily blinded with the effect. Of course I had to be that person to taste the water as well. I touched the tip of my finger on my tongue and boy was that gross. I told the others to taste the water as well and watched in horror as a friend grabbed a palmful and swallowed as if drinking from a stream only to see him cough and choke after the saltiness took over. It was glorious.

After a 15 minute soak, we all got out to slather ourself in the mud that's supposed to be rejuvenating and have healing properties. Then it was another 15-20 minute wait to dry up before we washed off again in the sea. I was impatient as usual and was anxiously waving my arms around to dry faster to jump right back in. The sun was setting and I was also annoyed at the fact that most pictures would be silhouettes and would not really capture the actual essence of the place. So I didn't take any. It was clearly a bummer. So while I watched others take their cliched Dead Sea floating pictures with books and selfie sticks, I was already making plans to come back first thing in the morning to get my own pictures and was claiming how my cliched picture would go one step further and have my iPad instead.
Before we all knew it, it was 6pm and time to exit the beach. It's apparently a rule that they allow no swimming after sunset. It made sense since in the distance was Israel and the Dead Sea connected both countries and anyone could just float over to either. Most of our troupe decided to get changed and watch the belly dancing show the hotel offered as entertainment, but I found a few others who wanted to continue swimming in one of the many pools, and so we picked the infinity pool overlooking the Dead Sea, although we couldn't really see it anymore, and settled for some beers instead. 

That evening, all through dinner, I went around to find if there were any takers for a morning swim and unsurprisingly found no one who wanted to sacrifice their sleep and venture out for a few pictures except for one. So the next day, at 6am, I took my sleepy ass to the beach and was completely floored away. The water was bluer, the sun had barely hit the sea yet and it was breath-taking. I wasted no time I made my way to the secluded beach. While I was bracing myself for the cold water that I thought was coming my way; I was once again surprised to find it pleasantly warm. I got all my pictures, including my own cliched Dead Sea one and spent an hour or two easily, till the sun hit me and finally made my way to get changed before breakfast. 

To wrap it up in a nutshell, I have a ton of dos and don'ts for your own Dead Sea visit.. 

  • Do spend as much time as possible in the water. It really is therapeutic I honestly felt my skin feeling so much better after soaking in. It's no surprise that Cleopatra had resorts built along the shores.
  • Don't shave for at least 36 hours before. Whether it's a beard or your legs. Even a minor bruise could hurt and sting and give you an unpleasant experience. And this comes after I rode a camel in Wadi Rum in a dress and grazed my calves on the fabric they used to make the mounts on the camels.
  • Do slather up a lot of mud and soak in the minerals and let it dry off completely before you dip back into the sea. It has been proven that the salt can clear acne, psoriasis, dry skin, dandruff and even cellulite.
  • Don't go too deep in. While no one actually sinks, you can still apparently drown if you fall over face deep into water and don't have the upper body strength to pull yourself on your back.
  • Do plan a trip to the Dead Sea. My parents have been charting an itinerary and planning to visit the Holy Land soon and I insisted they visit and float in the sea. It's over 3 million years old after all!
  • Don't drink the salt water. I mean why would you anyway? Apart from a mini taste test perhaps? But if you have alternative tastes or find yourself in a "lets see who can first finish off a glass of water from the Dead Sea" kind of competition; just plain don't. You'll mess up with the electrolytes in your body and do a number on your kidneys and might die of salt poisoning. Yes, that's a thing.
  • Do pack in some sunscreen. Even though it's the lowest point on earth and the sun's rays are the least harsh, don't risk the damage it might still be able to cause to your skin.
  • Don't pack your favourite swimsuit. The water has been known to discolour several types of fabric, so unless you're ready to have your favourite swimsuit get bleached, just don't.
  • Do breathe in. No. Really. The air contains a lot more oxygen due to the unique climate, so don't forget to take in gulps of pure unadulterated and fresh oxygen. 
  • Don't swim (float) for too long. As much as I stayed there for hours, it can get very dehydrating and it's a great idea to step out every 20-25 minutes to hydrate and then get back into the water.
  • Do try and snag a pair of water shoes. Like I said my hotel had a limited stock, we were still lucky that our area was only rocky and the only risk we faced was slipping and falling. But there are some areas which have crystallised salty rocks which can cut open ankles, and I truly can't even begin to imagine how excruciating that pain would be.
  • Don't splash around. As fun it is to behave like a little child when you're in a water body, if you splash around, you might get water into your nose or mouth or eyes. It's even worse and downright rude if you manage to splash water on someone else and end up temporarily blinding them!  
  • Do plan to visit before it's gone. Like I said, our guide told us that both Jordan and Israel are trying their best to conserve the Dead Sea and take care of the decreasing levels. Some scientists claim that within the next 50 years, there would be no sea left!

A post shared by Roxanne D'souza (@head2heels) on

All images of Roxanne D'souza are by and belong to Arnab Maity
The trip to Jordan was in partnership with and sponsored by the Jordan Tourism BoardThink Strawberries and Air Arabia

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