spur and gully

Marhaban fi alardin from Jordan,

I’m barrelling down the Dead Sea Road, travelling a little more cautiously than the impatient Jordanian drivers. It’s a long, long steep descent from Amman to the lowest point of dry land on Earth: 430 metres below sea level. I’m testing the claim that one can float in the Dead Sea whilst reading a book.

That’s me in the photograph proving that it can be done.

The Dead Sea is a very large body of salt water in the lowest part of the Jordanian desert. The Jordan River feeds the sea and this is where it stops flowing. The Dead Sea is clearly a lot lower than it has been in the past, judging by the terraced banks. The water from the river has been diverted and used for other purposes.

The high salt content (34%) means that floating is literally effortless. Floating on water is something I’ve always had trouble with hitherto. Here in the Dead Sea, it’s actually difficult to do anything else, such as swim or crouch. When I try the Australian Crawl, the buoyancy tends to flip me over onto my back. When I stand and then crouch, the buoyancy tends to push me up to a floating position. Here, floating is the default position. The local lads, enjoying the refreshing dip on a warm day, would have trouble adjusting to anything else.

The water is so salty (nine times more salty than the ocean), it stings when it gets into your eyes. In fact, it also stings any abrasion one might have before entering (thus expediting the healing, I’m supposing).

Nothing lives in the Dead Sea, hence the name. The huge body of blue water is surrounded by bone-dry spur and gully terrain. The steep sides in this section suggest that the water here is quite deep. The sea is large enough to cause tiny – almost imperceptible – waves to lap on the shore.

Some come here to tick off a bucket list item and some come here to have a mud bath. Anyway, the claim that it’s possible to read a book whilst floating in the Dead Sea is hereby verified. The feature photo is my proof.

Ma’asalama from Jordan


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