After a long drive with a pit stop for lunch, we made our descent to Aqaba. Passing sea level the humidity increased and the air got a little denser as we made our way to the lowest point on Earth. Without really planning it we realized we just might make sunset. Leaping out of the van to check in and learning we aren’t permitted to swim after sunset we dashed to our room to change. We were quite a sight. Not exactly in conservative dress for lack of time or caring we dashed through the hotel, and down the many many stairs to the sea. We literally landed there as the sun was setting, jumped in and took a couple of photos not knowing if the next morning would be foggy. Feeling satisfied we had captured this epic moment, we decided to try our hand at mudding. There wasn’t much sun or time to fully dry off but we gave it our best shot and then returned to the floating. This is what we were instructed to do…float and mud, mud and float. Rinse and repeat. We balanced this with trying not to slice our feet on the sharp bits of salt and rocks as we packed light and neglected flip flops. Oops. We caught our breath while marveling at the fact that we could be floating on our backs just inches above the rocks. An accidental taste further confirmed the salt content.
We decided to head back and shower and sort out a new room since ours was smoke filled but we were not missing the sunset to wait for a change. The hotel was very kind about this and we landed a definite upgrade with Dead Sea view and plenty of space for about 3 more beds. There really isn’t too much else to do at the Dead Sea but aside from limited food options, we were ok with it for our short visit. We went back down in the dark to see the lights or Jericho and Jerusalem, observe all the interesting mud and salt layers, star gaze and contemplate life and the turmoil we had been learning so much more about (as is obligatory with travel and star gazing).
The next morning we grumpily woke at 5:30 for the brilliant idea of checking out sunrise. We perhaps got there a little early but it really was a brilliant idea. We enjoyed the sea view and for a brief period could see Jerusalem in the haze, lit up in pink. It was perfect timing because once the sun came up over the mountain top, the haze engulfed the view. It was still too chilly for us so we opted for breakfast and returned for our floating and mudding ritual. We decided that because it was cold, it was better to mud first. We actually dried off this time making it much easier to clean the mud off. We had much more time in the water and experimented with what type of gymnastics can be accomplished with 30% salt content. We may have also tried floating like sea otters to know what that felt like. We had some good laughs and though not wanting to leave, had spent enough time in the water to encourage us on our way back to the airport.
Our guide picked us up bearing treats. He felt quite bad about no camel milk I think but he wanted us to depart with the tools to make Bedouin tea which we had loved so much in the desert. He sent us home with a mini tea kettle, plenty of tea and dried sage. Turns out it is much easier to get sage through customs than mud. We are still unclear why I had a debacle at customs getting our mud through as this happens all the time but we safely made our way back to Kuwait after that and settled in for another week at clinic.