Advice About Visiting the Dead Sea from Someone Who Went There Once

I’ve been writing reflections on the pilgrimage to Israel I took in June of this year. To read all of them, click here.

Here are nine pieces of advice I gleaned from the two days I spent at the Dead Sea last month:

  1. When you’re going down the steep descent toward the water your ears will start to pop, and you might wonder what is going on and think maybe you have a cold or something, but then you remember you’re headed to the lowest place on earth and such things happen there.
  2. Hotels on the Dead Sea are apparently quite large. No matter how many people are staying there, the sheer size of the place will completely engulf them. I don’t know of any organization that could hold a convention there large enough to feel like it was even halfway full. Maybe there are fifty people in the lobby? Maybe there are three? Who knows? It feels like a mausoleum either way.

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    Can you count the people in this picture from the David Dead Sea Hotel?
  3. When you are at the hotel buffet, think about how the oxygen level is 5 percent higher at the Dead Sea than at sea level, and that people go there specifically to train for marathons. See if this discourages you in any way from getting seconds.
  1. The hotel you stay at may have a spa. At such spas I’m told there is such a thing as a chocolate wrap, which I can only imagine makes you look like an enormous Magnum bar or maybe like you fell into a chocolate fountain at a wedding. There is also a “deep facial,” which lasts 70 (!) minutes and involves the “removal of black heads with facial massage.” I would kind of like to see it done, but on someone else please.

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    Wooden stick not included in chocolate wrap
  2. If you are there in the summer and you are outside and a breeze kicks up, it will not be refreshing. It will feel as if there is an array of hair dryers pointed at you.
  3. You may notice some unusual choices of music coming over the speakers in the hotel lobby. I, for one, came to really enjoy the salsa version of Coldplay’s “Clocks.”
  4. If you go down to the beach early in the morning to watch the sunrise, it will be beautiful but you will only be able to enjoy the beauty intermittently as you must constantly swat the flies away from your ankles.

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    I paused in my swatting long enough to take this
  5. If you get water in your eye because you got a little too exuberant while floating in the sea, do not wipe it out. Think of the saddest thing, like maybe the ending of Old Yeller or the part where Bambi’s mother dies or any Sufjan Stevens song, and wait for the tears to come. It will only take a minute. I do not know how people actually rub Dead Sea mud on their faces (which is a thing) without getting the just the tiniest droplet in their eye. Props to them; I couldn’t even float for 10 minutes before the fun was over and I had to stagger out of the water.
  6. Also if you float in the Dead Sea, don’t go hiking beforehand. You will have scrapes on your legs. You will have chafed bits. And they will BURN. And when you get out you will have to shamble back to the hotel zombie-style because there is NO SHUTTLE, at least not at this time of night, and ransack your suitcase for any kind of lotion.

I know you want to hear the salsa version of “Clocks.” For your listening pleasure:

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