“… because truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself.” Moby Dick
It’s finally gotten cold in Ramallah! Days are about low-80s with a rather strong wind, and the nights are cooooooooold. I haven’t yet broken out my leather jacket, but I was about to the other night! It was such a rapid sudden change in weather. And yesterday we got rain!! A solid intense rainstorm. It made me so happy. Though when I saw the clouds rolling in, I was in Jerusalem, I kind of thought the apocalypse was coming – it was the first time in 2.5 months that I’ve seen that type of cloud in the sky! I’m so used to clear blue skies, seeing black rainstorm clouds was a little frightening! But it’s been really nice to not sweat all.the.time anymore.
I have been such a bad blogger lately, but it’s because it has been such a busy time here! I’ve been getting myself into a nice daily routine of classes in the morning, coffeeshops in the afternoon to study, meeting friends for a few hours at night and then repeat. But I’ve had some adventures in the past week since I’ve blogged last (of course, there are always adventures here!). I went to the Dead Sea (more below on that), Taybeh Oktoberfest, paid an arm and a leg for a not-so-great pedicure in Ramallah, met with an old work colleague in Jerusalem, and almost went back to Haifa this weekend (even got as far as Jerusalem before we decided to turn around). I’m a little relieved to not be traveling again this weekend, just so I can get caught up on necessities like cleaning, email, and studying.
The Dead Sea – there are no words. It was the most amazing experience, I absolutely loved it. There’s no way to describe how just plain cool is is to just float like that! It’s in the middle of the desert, but because there is SO much salt in the water, the sand is essentially just salt – there are huge chunks of salt as you walk toward the water.
We paid an absurd amount of money at the Ein Gedi Spa (definitely not worth it!!), because we wanted to be someplace where we didn’t need to worry about leaving our stuff while we floated in the Sea. But, there are much better places and for much cheaper than the Ein Gedi Spa, so that was a little disappointing. For a place that is supposed to be “luxury,” it was far below what we were expecting. And it was also really sad, you took a “train” down to the water’s edge from the Spa building, and they had signs posted along the path of where the water used to come up to in certain years. So you’d see a sign for 1990, where the water used to be then; and then another hundred meters or so and you’d see a sign for 2001 … and the distance to where the water has receded is astonishing and really upsetting. The Dead Sea is receding by a meter a year; the surface has been reduced by a third since the 1960s. This is mainly due to a sharp decline in incoming water from the Jordan River, its main affluent. The Friends of the Earth Middle East, an NGO that brings together Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli environmentalists, has been working on bringing attention to this disturbing and unspoken-about phenomenon.
But it’s still an amazing experience, and I had so much fun just floating for two hours straight. The water feels.. silky! There’s no way else to describe it. Thankfully, even though I had some cuts, they didn’t sting too badly, but definitely be careful with what cuts you have on your body, or at least prepare yourself for the salt water to really sting. I unfortunately got some water in my eyes, which was so incredibly painful. But, I just stood there with my eyes closed for a couple of minutes and let them heal themselves and it was fine, no residual side effects!
And because we went on a Friday, stupid us, we had to catch the last Israeli public bus back at 2:20, so we really only got about 2.5 hours at the Dead Sea. So I’m definitely going to go back, soon, and do the mud thing (supposedly putting the mud from the sand/sea on your skin is the most soothing/healing/amazing for your skin), and relax more. It’s a beautiful place.
So that’s the Dead Sea, and it’s something that everyone should experience – it might have ruined all other oceans for me, it might be my new favorite place on Earth!