After Amman, ancient Petra, the Wadi Rum desert, and one wandering afternoon by the sea in Aqaba, the Dead Sea awaited us. The salt lake, located 420 m below the surface of the world’s oceans, attracts tourists not only as a disappearing world unique, but also as a healing spa for all those who suffer from skin ailments. Although at that time my personal ailments concerned only the intestines, not the skin, I was sincerely looking forward to the big salt puddle.
Our gateway to the Dead Sea was Madaba – a city famous for its Christian history and the mosaics of the Holy Land and Jerusalem. From Aqaba, we first had to drive back to Amman, which was ensured by a leisurely five-hour bus ride from JETT (8.5 JOD), during which I was only annoyed by a gut. It’s hard to say which kindness caused me the daily morning hardships on the toilet. I tasted somewhere and even Becherovka used in regular doses could not prevent uncontrolled emptying. Nevertheless, I managed to reach Amman with clean textiles.
It is another 30 km from Amman to Madaba, which we covered with a local bus, even though it was Friday, and local transport does not seem to run. For Muslims, Friday is like our Sunday. Work is not recommended. We devote ourselves to grandmothers, Muslims to prayer. At least that’s what they say. I don’t know if it was because Madaba was predominantly Christian, but the bus went there that day. All you had to do was stand on the road behind a huge roundabout called the 7th Circle and wave your hand at a passing bus. It was that simple.
In Madaba, we had a long search for accommodation booked via Airbnb , which was not marked with a descriptive number, let alone a sign. The only certainty that we were walking into the right house was given to us by an old, elegant English-speaking gentleman, with whom we first had to eat chocolate and drink tea. Explaining to him that we were in a hurry to see the local sights, because we only have one afternoon in Madaba, was in vain. He just wanted to talk. He upset us a little by saying that you could only get to the Dead Sea from Madaba by taxi. Lonely Planet also mentioned the local bus. But we couldn’t find out where and at what time the bus left, so in the end we had to really tell the old man.
We made another attempt at a cheap transfer to the Dead Sea at a neighboring hotel, where we wanted to blend in discreetly into a tour bus full of German seniors. Due to our age, this did not succeed, but during the gentle warning that we would leave the hotel, the receptionist managed to tell us valuable information – Uber runs in Jordan.
The next day at five in the morning, my intestinal microflora vigorously warned me to get up. Thanks to that, we were already sitting in Uber at 6:20 and rejoicing at how we saved. A taxi to the Dead Sea costs 25-30 JOD. The Uber application promised a price of only 10 JOD. But the Jordanians somehow humanized this service, and in the end we had to salt 13 JODs, without being able to clearly explain why. It doesn’t matter, mainly that we were by the sea.
We knew from the travelers before us that the public beaches were dirty and, as two European women in swimsuits, we could hardly escape all male glances. On the other hand, no one at all noticed us in the tourist-acquired Deat Sea Spa Hotel . No, we did not slip there classically quietly and in the Czech Republic. At the reception, we honestly paid a fee of 20 JOD, which entitles people from the street to hang out on the private beach and swimming pools all day and enjoy the Dead Sea without snooping. For an additional fee, you can also buy a piece of chewing gum here, but due to unwanted movements in the intestines, we had purchased supplies of bananas and pastries in our backpacks.
At half past seven in the morning, the Dead Sea greeted them with its dull shine and we could plunge into the saline solution. Although throwing is a strong word. From the moment I was kneeling, it was clear that this would be an extraordinary experience. Once the water was down, it rolled me over like an empty barrel and prevented me from climbing back to the bottom. I clattered on the surface like an inflated whale, which made me laugh. With all the clumsiness, I tried one thing, not to put salt in my eyes. And even though I know it shouldn’t be done, I tasted it. I’ve never drunk nasal drops, but that’s how I imagine their taste. Yuck!
It was a matter of course to spank the beneficial black mud on it, to let it dry on it and then try to wash it in vain. At around nine, the hotel staff arrived on the beach, and dozens of human buoys swayed on the surface in no time. We therefore took refuge under parasols on the original seashore. Why the original? The water level drops by about 70 cm every year. And although local businessmen originally built hotels right on the shore, 15 years later they have to tie lazy tourists to the water with a train. The Dead Sea escaped them by a few meters, so new beaches are being built. That’s why it was just the two of us and peace. In the afternoon we desalted thoroughly, threw our swimsuits in the basket and Uber went straight to the airport.
In a single week, we saw and experienced so many unusual things in Jordan that it would cost the entire book. By no means have the prejudice that many people forced us before the trip that Jordan is dangerous to two white women be confirmed to us. It’s not! We are only dangerous to ourselves if we condemn anything for fear of the unknown, without first trying to understand it in any way. Throughout the trip, out of respect for local traditions, we covered our knees and shoulders (hair in the desert for practical reasons). But it was not necessary and not all tourists adhere to it. On the contrary, it seemed like a great way for us to enjoy Jordan with everything that belongs to it.