judih's observations from kibbutz: To the Dead Sea - descending 900 feet below sea level    
 To the Dead Sea - descending 900 feet below sea level
picture8 Jul 2006 @ 18:09, by Judih Haggai

It's a fantastic descent, taking a road from the Negev city of Arad and moving down past signs that tell you how low you go.

The road cuts through steep sand coloured walls. Signs remind you to beware of falling rock. It happens sometimes that rocks fall and that's that. There's nowhere to go but down.

I didn't photograph the road down, but I can assure you my ears popped (as in air travel) as my entire being was mesmorized by the other worldly landscape of the descent to the Dead Sea. It's all sandy rocky cuttings through geological time. What history is fossilized in those rocks and how many feet have trod on those layers.

Finally, seeing the Sea, there's initial shock at how shrunken it's become. Jordan is just across the way and it looks like you could walk across revealed sand bars to visit that other shore.

And of course the Hotels, perhaps not many compared to other tourist sites in the world, do their highrise best to hide the wondrous atmosphere of this place.

And there's the fact that the southern portion of the Sea is divided into pools - used commercially for potassium production as well as for the many varieties of skin care products.

Quickly passing the hotels, the road moves past Masada, the scene of the Hebrew holdout against the Romans. They eventually chose to commit mass suicide rather than be taken as slaves (or worse).

Then we pass the Ein Gedi spa (the "lowest place on earth") at 900 feet below sea level. At this level, there are no harmful ultra-violet rays, and many sufferers of psoriasis come here for healing treatments. These treatments work, by the way, but need to be repeated.

The heat these days is unbearable. I thought Nir Oz was hot at 40 degrees Celsius (over 100 F), but our place is a winter wonderland compared to Kibbutz Ein Gedi. 11:00 p.m or 7 a.m., neither offered respite from the heat.

Still, it's an absolutely breathtakingly beautiful kibbutz, filled with lush oversize plantlife. Huge acacia, cactii of all types and heartstopping views of the Sodom hills on one side and the Dead Sea on the other.

Masada


Masada



Kibbutz Ein Gedi
From kibbutz ein gedi


And a camel taking it easy, at the side of the road back home towards Be'er Sheva

Desert camel (near Be'er Sheva)

An hour and a half from Kibbutz Nir Oz, the trip to the Dead Sea always leaves me in awe. Not even stopping to dip into the sea, or pausing to climb the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, it's still a wild trip. And speaking of wild, there are tigers in the Nature Reserve. One arrived at the kibbutz and devoured a house cat.

Something to think about while wandering the desert.


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