Finally, after describing my adventures at Israel’s Mediterranean and Red Sea shores, I am getting to the third, and arguably most unusual sea on my trip (and in my experience in general), the Dead Sea! Being the lowest land spot on Earth and one of the three saltiest lakes, the Dead Sea is an obvious tourist attraction, topped with mythical healing properties. However, I had heard mixed opinions about it, some of which described it as just a place to hang out a couple of hours. And I bet it is so, if you come with a bunch of other tourists to a crowded beach on a planned excursion trip. But you may also experience the timelessness and peace, if you know the right places and look for relaxation.
My new friend who advised that nice relatively secluded spot at the Red Sea near Eilat again gave me an excellent recommendation for her favorite place at the Dead Sea, a wild beach near Metsoke Dragot.
This is how the bus stop (next to a military post) looks like where you need to stop for this beach (I put this photo, because the stops are not announced and you have to ask the driver in advance and watch out).
Unfortunately my friend couldn’t join me on that occasion.
So what was it like? Well, the video below probably shows how much I was excited with the idea of floating freely in the waters of the Dead Sea, but it is impossible to describe the feeling, it must be experienced… by everybody! As there is nothing like it 🙂 In few words, I felt fantastic: on the one hand, the deserted landscape and lifeless hyper-saline waters created an almost extraterrestrial ambience,
but on the other, the feeling of loss of gravity and soothingly warm water created an almost womb-like environment of comfort and peace. This feeling was even stronger at night, when the vision faded away and other senses became more apparent. Such careless floating in combination with stargazing made me feel as if I was drifting in the starry sky itself…
(I must mention in relation to this video that due to increased density of water in the Dead Sea, it actually was particularly pleasant for the genitals: my balls felt as relaxed and liberated as it gets, floating freely and kind of weightless, and this feeling spread to the rest of my body; in combination with perfectly warm water temperature, it provided a feeling of ultimate relaxation. This is something that non-nudist visitors may be missing out because of restricting clothes.)
Well, now back to the Earth: the sad truth is that one should not spend too much time in the Dead Sea’s waters because of risk of dehydration. As it often happens, many healing procedures should be done in moderation; mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea may have amazing effects on your skin and health in general, but you have to be cautious… When you get out of the water, again you feel somewhat unusual, as there is no typical cooling effect from evaporation of water from the skin, because such hyper-saline water does not evaporate easily. But I imagine when it does, you’ll be covered with a layer of salt (also be careful if you have any open wounds, I still have a little scar on my foot as I had a scratch while I was swimming there).
For this reason, you should pick up a spot where it is possible to wash in a fresh water after swimming in the Dead Sea. Public beaches at the Dead Sea usually have showers, as, for example, at the Ein Gedi oasis, where I swam for the first time (also naked, but away from the main crowd – the first part of the video, at dusk and night, is from there). But in a wild place like this, you have to make sure that there are some fresh water springs. Actually this was something I didn’t expect to find at the Dead Sea at all, but obviously this stretch of the shore was quite luscious and plants needed fresh water…
And indeed, there were not only underground fresh water sources, but some springs and pools as well!
Not all springs are filled with fresh water though, so you will need to ask around or simply observe which one to use. This pool looked really inviting, and the water was very refreshing.
And this is the view from the pool itself.
One time when I went to refresh in the pool, it was full of British tourists, none of whom was naked. They were trying to wash their clothes from the mud and apparently they got sand and small stones in their shorts, so I noted jokingly that was the reason why I didn’t wear any clothes (I even forgot about this problem with bathing clothed)… One guy seemed to be especially moved by this notion and he started smiling to me and I smiled back, but soon it became too obvious that he wanted a bit more than exchange of smiles. Then, his friends were leaving, but he said he needed to wash his boxers still, and as soon as they disappeared, he didn’t waste any moment and started approaching to me until I had to tell him that I was not interested. I was quite annoyed that he took my nudity as a signal that I was ready for a quickie ‘right here right now’. I found it ironic as well, because my local friend who told me about this place, also said that sometimes she got irritated by men from conservative religious background who sometimes come here and sit next to the pool and wait for naked girls to wash there, while their wives sit somewhere in the shade (fully covered, of course) playing with children; but obviously, some more secular western men are not any more tactful…
And speaking of mud, of course the Dead Sea is known for its mud with healing and rejuvenating properties, which is sold worldwide by cosmetic companies. Unfortunately, some of the methods that they use to get the minerals, salts and mud from the Dead Sea are among the reasons why it dries out (another major factor is diverting water from the Jordan River and smaller water sources for irrigation). So, probably the best way to use the precious mud with minimal impact on this unique place is to go there, apply it directly all over your body (don’t miss any spot ;-)) and then wash it off back in the sea.
I spent most of the day alone, quiet and relaxed, sitting under those bushes and enjoying amazing colors between the floating/bathing sessions.
But in the late afternoon, I got to know this nice fellow, one of the rare nowadays kind of true hippies. He said he came there regularly for a few weeks and stayed in this self-made tent. Well, with the summer weather in Israel you don’t really need much.
What really surprised me was that he didn’t even have much food, as he ate mostly what other people shared with him (as did I as well). Later on, another ‘crazy’ guy joined us; he was an American tourist traveling around with a huge Australian aborigine instrument. The hippy guy suggested to show me some other pools along the shore, but I was worried that I might miss the last bus. However, there were two guys with a dog who looked very friendly, and I asked them, if they could give me a lift, to which they agreed! BTW their dog made an unfortunate attempt to dive into the Dead Sea waters, ouch! It took her two times to realize that it wasn’t a good idea to get mouth and eyes in contact with the water… So, I went with the hippy to explore the pools; some of them had very strange colors, bright green or grayish-white, and the soil around them seemed quite unstable and soft like flour; it all looked unearthly, and I probably would have felt very insecure, if I had come there alone…
As we returned, it was getting dark quickly and I was happy to find that the two guys with the dog were still there… It turned out that in the best traditions of Eytan Fox’ movies they were a couple, a Palestinian arab and a jew (from Ireland) living in Jerusalem, but it sounded like there was no big drama in their lives unlike in the movies, and it was really touching to see it real. So in the end, not only did they bring me to a kibbutz where my friend lived, but they also took me from there to Jerusalem, let me stay at their place for few hours and helped me to get to a communal taxi that is much cheaper than the usual private one (which I hadn’t known existed), as I had my flight back early next morning. What a great trip it was, both in terms of places I saw and people I met!