I recently took a trip to the Dead Sea.
Well, really to Israel. And the Dead Sea was there.
If you remember your geography, the Dead Sea is bordered by Jordan, Israel and Palestine. Is below sea level. Is almost ten times as salty as the ocean. And you can’t swim in it. Only float.
I’ve always been curious about this curious, dead, body of water. Herod built a health resort on it. Cosmetics are made of it. Plants and animals can’t survive it.
I was traveling with a large group of people. People who’d only seen me in my clothes. Clothes wisely selected to trick the eye into shaving fifteen pounds from each hip. Knees and arms covered to lower my mounting chronology.
We were told the only way to experience the Dead Sea….and it’s healthy properties….was to get in it.
That meant walking uncovered in a bathing suit down a long, exposed path, in size eleven hiking shoes so as to navigate a slippery scramble down rocks and protect your feet from the burning sand. With a group of people. It was 110 degrees.
You weren’t done. Then you had to cross the wide desert beach like a naked Lawrence of Arabia in a midday light so cruel a “Vogue” model would have looked like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
So…..did I sit out the Dead Sea float, caftan covered, safe on the shore? Or bare all?
I watched as most women settled in the shade, stuck to my lawn chair by a society that poo poos dimples below the chin. A few men ventured forth.
But wait, I couldn’t miss the experience of the Dead Sea. Could I? When would I be here again?
So I narrowed my eyes. Mustered my courage. And headed for the water.
You don’t really float in the Dead Sea. That would require some of your body to be under water. It’s more like bobbing. Your body merely skims the top of the water and doesn’t sink in.
If you try to push your legs down and stand up, good luck. The water is so buoyant it doesn’t allow it.
You truly had to feel it to appreciate it.
I didn’t cover myself in Dead Sea mud as is the tradition. That would have required too much time on display. Out of the water.
I just stayed in the water and joyously bobbed. Then bobbed some more.
And I’m glad I did. To have missed that experience because western society only celebrates the fourteen year old body, would have been a true loss.
And I don’t have time for any more losses.