Posted by: vlibrizzi | August 9, 2010

Wading in the Jordan River to bobbing in the Dead Sea

We just got back from a fantastic three-day trip to Jordan.

We arrived in Amman, the capital city, on Friday morning, rented a not-so-reliable (and minimally air-conditioned) car from Hertz, and were off to explore the country.

Our first stop: Mount Nebo.

We were fascinated by how many Biblical sites are in Jordan. You can see me standing at the top of Mount Nebo above, where the Bible says that Moses died after climbing to the top to be shown the Promised Land.  Pretty incredible place to visit!

At first, as we looked out over the mountain, I have to admit, we didn’t think much of the Promised Land. It seemed like a sandy desert to us.

But then we noticed the map in the photo above which pointed to all of the famous Biblical cities that sprung up on this land: Jericho, Hebron, Bethlehem, to name a few.

It was then that I realized, that, wow, this place is pretty special!

Continuing on our Biblical journey, we then drove to Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan, the place where Jesus was baptized.

On our drive, we were momentarily halted by a passing shepherd and his goats….

…and by this sign, which you would only ever see in Jordan!

We arrived at the visitor’s center and joined a group walking tour to the site of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. We were at the lowest point on earth (near the Dead Sea), in the middle of the desert…in August!

So, it was approximately 120 degrees outside.

Suffice it to say, our 45 minute tour turned into a quick 30 minute overview.  The guide was struggling!

Although I too was definitely suffering from the heat, I was disappointed that we didn’t get to spend more time at Jesus’ Baptism site.

As you can see in the photo of the site above, there isn’t much to see, and the Jordan river does not run there anymore, as it had 2,000 years ago, but it was still a very spiritual place to be. No matter one’s religious persuasions, one could quickly forget about the heat and just stand in awe of what happened at this place.

Next, our tour guide took us to see the Jordan river. You can see C. and me standing next to it in the photo above.

And right on the other side of the river is….Israel!

Jordan and Israel are only about 10 feet apart at this point. So, of course, there were military guards with big rifles guarding the river.

For those of you looking to get baptized, or re-baptized, you can do so on the Israeli side of the Jordan River at this point.

Since we were on the Jordan side of the river, C. didn’t get baptized in the water again, but he did step in for a quick break from the heat.

I stayed on the shores. The water looked a bit too murky for my tastes.

Later that evening, we arrived at our hotel on the Dead Sea. We stayed at the Marriott Dead Sea and, after getting stopped by guards at multiple checkpoints along the way and then again at our hotel, and then getting our car, suitcases, and selves checked, we arrived at the very safe hotel…and had a perfectly relaxing experience.

While I was getting a Dead Sea mud facial (which left my skin feeling softer than it had ever been), C. stopped by the infinity pool to take photos and enjoy the sunset over the Dead Sea.

The next morning, we woke up early to swim (or bob!) in the Dead Sea. It was an unreal experience. Our bodies wanted to stand in the water, but every time we put our feet down, they would almost instantly bob back up!

The Dead Sea is 31% salt  (so we had to make sure not to shave for a couple of days or get any water in our eyes…ouch! Now we know where the phrase, “pouring salt into a wound” comes from!), but that creates a unique buoyant effect so that we could float almost completely out of the water (as you can see us doing above) with zero effort.

After our swim in the Dead Sea, we joined the other hotel guests, photo of them below, and covered ourselves with the Dead Sea mud. The mud smelled terrible, and is very thick, but after letting it dry and then washing it off in a shower, you can see that it really does work. Our skin was so soft!

Next, we were off to Petra. More on that tomorrow…

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