Friday, July 29, 2011

A long day trip, eventually

As I was waiting at the pick-up point (due at 7.20am) I had a premonition that somehow, I would not be going on a tour. The minutes ticked past. Then the tens of minutes. I decided after 25 minutes that I should go back to the hotel and enquire. Shortly after I got there, the tour company phoned the hotel to say there was a problem with the mini-bus.

"Take a seat. They will call back maybe in 30 minutes".

A new departure time was announced (8.45am) and I was indeed collected then. The vehicle had been exchanged for another, but no real explanation was given. So, I was going after all. However, it meant I would be at the Dead Sea at the hottest time of the day. It was also pretty hot trekking around Masada, although the views from the top were spectacular. In fact, the walkway had been closed because of extreme heat, so the only option for getting up and down was the cable car. Masada, of course, was the site of a siege that was made into a movie. It's also a place of great pride for the Jewish people. I was treated to a fly-past by four Israeli airforce fighter jets.

Later, at Kalia beach, I had my second float in the Dead Sea. The first was in the mid 1990s, from the Jordanian side. The greasy feeling on my skin was the same, but this time there were good showers. In Jordan, all those years ago, there was one shower with a trickle of water. I plastered myself with mud, as did everyone else, and I undoubtedly look younger because of it.

On the plane from London to Tel Aviv I was sitting next to an Israeli guy called Itamar, who told me the most important thing when you go in the Dead Sea is ... don't fart, because it will sting like hell. Farting in the Dead Sea wasn't something I had been planning to do, but I made sure not to.

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