02 October 2007

The Lowest Point on Earth

At some point during my loooong, windy bus ride to the Sukkah in the Suburbs, I mentioned to Allison that I wanted to go to the Dead Sea. Like many of my last-minute plans, it went something like this:

SBB: Let's go to the Dead Sea.
Allison: Oooh, sure. When do you want to go?
SBB: Tomorrow.
Allison: Do you have a plan?
SBB: Um. Bus?

It worked like a charm...and we convinced Rafi to come with us! Earlyish in the morning we set off for the Central Bus Station, stopped at Aroma (it's like Starbucks here), grabbed some coffees, like this:

SBB: Can I have an Ice Cafe and an Ice Aroma? (I said this in Hebrew.)
[in my head, I thought I was ordering a coffee with ice in it and a frappachino-thing]
Aroma Girl: You want what and what?
[in her mind, ice cafe and ice Aroma are the same thing -- a frappachino-thing.]
SBB: Ice Aroma. Ice Cafe. Thanks.
Aroma Girl: OK, it's [insert Starbuck-like price] sheqels.
SBB: What the hell? Did I stutter? (That was to myself, and in English.)
Aroma Girl (brings back two identical cups of frappachino-thing): Here you go!
SBB: Which is ice cafe and which is ice Aroma? (I thought maybe one had fun flavoring in it.)
Aroma Girl: This is cafe, and this aroma. (She said this with a straight face. Somehow. Later on, during her lunch break, she regaled her friends about the stupid American who ordered the same thing with two separate names.)

Moral of the story? Next time, order cafe im kerach (coffee with ice). After this fun time at Aroma, we got on the bus to Ein Gedi / the Dead Sea. Funny exchange from the bus ride:

Allison, peeking out from behind her Frommer's Israel Guide: Did you know that the Dead Sea is the lowest place on Earth?
Rafi: Of course.
SBB: My life often feels like that.

We decided at some point on the way down to go to the Spa at Ein Gedi, which is also on the Dead Sea, and has nicer locker rooms than the public beach we had set out to patronize. Below you can see pictures from the fun we had during our day at the (blue-collar) spa. This is Rafi's name for the spa, because it's pretty cheap and most of the people there were wearing jellies. Remember jellies?

First thing we did was decorate ourselves in thick, black mud. We found our friend Anya as we were walking to the mud, and she graciously took pictures of us painting on the Bootz (mud). See Allison, Rafi and me playing in the following pictures:

Girls Gone Muddy.

Rafi gets in on the fun.

After we did the mud thing, and rinsed off the mud thing, we took the tram (don't forget, this is a SPA) down to the Dead Sea shore. It was hot, and there were plenty of people in the water. You can see as you walk down to the edge that this is not a normal body of water. Each person in the Dead Sea floats on top of the water like an ice cube in soda. The shore was different, too. It was like walking on top of a big, slick salty skating rink. Wading into the water, you're surprised at the warmth of the water, and the teeny, tiny stings on the cuts in your skin that you didn't even know you had. After going out a few feet, you can sit your tush down in the water, and watch as your feet pop up. Like the world's best synchronized swimmer on steroids, you can float on top of the water and look great doing it. I crossed my legs, then I did a split. I floated on my stomach and stretched my legs above my tush without ever getting my face wet. I had a great time and had little interest in getting out of the water, except I decided it was time for lunch.

Floating effortlessly. What a lady!

Sara Beth is a Ham.

Rafi tries desparately to not be a tourist as I mug for one of my many publicity shots.

The rest of the day was nice. We went in the (chlorinated) pool to rinse of the oily, mineral-rich Dead Sea water and changed into some dry clothes. After a late lunch we caught the bus back to Jerusalem, feeling all relaxed and vitalized from the beautiful spa.

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