Monday, May 21, 2007

The Dead Sea............

Sunday was our last day in Israel and it promised to be interesting. All of Israel is interesting. I'm going back. No question. We had a great breakfast at the David Citadel in Jerusalem and headed out of town, leaving the Jordanian Hill Country and headed across the Jordanian Desert for the Dead Sea. As we rolled out of the lush greenery of the hills around Jerusalem and started our descent in elevation we enjoyed the fruits of some nice road building. The Arab shepherds were busy in the barren hills tending their flocks of goats and sheep. Rain is scarce, grass is very very short and frankly, a jackrabbit would have to pack his lunch over alot of the country.

Above the Dead Sea is a must-see fortress called Masada. Click on this link and read about it.

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/History/Early%20History%20-%20Archaeology/Masada%20-%20Desert%20Fortress%20Overlooking%20the%20Dead%20Sea

We took the cable car to the top of Masada. What a view!! I can only imagine the legions of people it took to create this fortress atop such a difficult natural plateau. Being there reminded me of the feelings of awe I had for Swiss mountaineers when they built Cafe Di Midi below Mt. Blanc above Chamonix. The Dead Sea is shrinking fast and probably won't be around in a couple hundred years. Hard to imagine a lake 50 miles long drying up but that is what is happening. Global warming you ask? Nope. Just a shift in the natural world. More people using more run-off. Underground aquifers don't get filled and the cycle is short-changed. Everything cycles and we as the human race are doing a magnificent job in getting in the way of the natural cycle.

Walking into the Dead Sea was hard. The bottom of the lake (it doesnt' seem like a sea to me) is very hard and encrusted with a rather thick layer of crusted salt. It's hard on your feet. What a place to relax and enjoy the feeling of total weightlessness. I've been alot of places but never to space and have no urge to go so this feeling of weightlessness was rather unique on earth. There were many tourists visiting the lake to take advantage of the medicinal healing qualities the lake possesses. I know my skin felt so good after being in the lake. In fact, I felt good for a couple of days after being in that brine. It may have been my massage from a young girl from the Ukraine before I got into the lake but I doubt it. Now, this lake water doesn't feel like water. It feels like clear motor oil. It is more oil than water. Not a bird on, near or over the lake. Not a single bit of plant life or animal life in the lake. Sterile. It is an amazing place being the lowest point below sea level on on earth.

One of the most unique places I have ever seen was in the desert. We happened upon a monestary. Surely one of the most breathtaking views in the Jordanian desert, the majestic Greek Orthodox monastery of St. George. The monastery was constructed out of the mountain where it lies. Work on it began in the 4th Century and was later restored in 1878.

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