Sunday, July 18, 2010

Jerusalem & the Dead Sea

On the last day of our stay in Israel we took a day-trip to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea with some of Troels' coworkers - Tyler, John and Dean. "Rocky", as he asked us to call him, was our Israeli driver/guide for the day, and he made the whole difference by sharing so much of his knowledge with us.

In just a few hours, we went through the various quarters of the Jerusalem, through the small limestone-covered streets, and just soaked in as much as we possibly could. Little to say that it was a very short time to take in so much history and beauty in one go. I am still not sure what words should be used to best describe our visit of Jerusalem, but I'll give it a try and throw in a few: overwhelming, breathtaking, hot, soulful, moving, surreal, surprising, hot, confusing, peaceful...did I mention hot?

I loved every bits and pieces of it.

We visited all of the places that once upon a time looked so distant and only part of an imaginary story in my catholic classes when I was little. We stopped at the Wailing Wall. And Olivia got to touch the wall too, with her two hands with that! The image of Olivia with her two hands on the wall will remain in my memory for the years to come. I don't know why, I think it just moved me to see her small innocent hands on the smooth holy stones. I still wish I had a real picture for that, but instead I will keep the one in my head. Click.

We left Jerusalem and drove through the Judean desert on our way to the Dead sea. Rocky pointed out to the Bedouin villages along side of the freeway.

The Bedouins used to be nomads in the desert, but they stopped traveling and settled in the desert along the freeway, "where they can find all they need", said sure makes you think twice about your lifestyle.

The Dead Sea proved to be quite a surprise for me. I'll have to admit that I wasn't super excited to go there - what could be so cool about salty water where nothing can live, after all? Well, let me tell you, it turns out that it is pretty damn cool!

Before we got there, Rocky warned us "You don't swim in the Dead float in the Dead Sea". And he was oh so right. Why do you not swim? Because 1) the amount of salt is so important that the buoyancy goes through the roof and it's hard to keep your body anywhere but at the surface, 2) even if you could go under the water, you really don't want to do - your eyes wouldn't be friends with you after that. Heck, even a simple mosquito bite feels like someone is scratching your skin with a fork.

But the coolest part about the Dead Sea? It makes your skin feel like baby skin after only a few minutes in. And I am not exaggerating. The boys kept bragging about their soft skins - doesn't happen that often let me tell you! Best thing E.V.E.R. The Dead Sea and I are like best pals now :)

On our way back to Tel Aviv we drove through the West Bank, passed some security controls with big machine guns, and saw the wall between Israel and Palestine. Another side of the reality of living in Israel that hits you pretty hard in the face when you least expect it.

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