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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Day 19, Wednesday - Amman, Madaba, Mt. Nebo (Moses's Mountain) & Dead Sea

Number three of my day-trips took me West (technically South West; Day 1 was South, Day 2 was North). 

Madaba is famous for its church, St. George Cathedral, which houses a huge floor mosaic of the Holy Land, as well as being famous for its tradition of mosaics itself. First, I went to the church:

The mosaics are made up of millions of small pieces of stone from the nearby mountains and are incredible works of art.

After the church I went to a workshop where they make and sell mosaics. Most of the artists are handicapped (generally physically) and this company gives them stable jobs. The art takes a lot of time, ranging from a few hours to months, depending on the size of the stone pieces used & the size of the final item.

These ostrich eggs are decorated from crushed up rocks and are some of the more time consuming pieces. 

Next stop was Mt. Nebo, which is the acclaimed site where Moses stood and saw the Promised Land. This view is towards Palestine (straight ahead in the distance) and the Dead Sea (the blue patch near the bottom center of the frame). 



Then we drove down to the Dead Sea itself. The Dead Sea is so named because nothing can live in it due to its high salt content. This concentration of salt also lends itself to great buoyancy, meaning that you can quite literally float with no effort at all. Actually, you don’t really have a choice. 

The hotel through which I accessed the Dead Sea

Some people floating

When I first stepped it, it didn’t feel any different, but you can immediately see the disturbed water clouds around you, like oil does in water. It feels almost oily too, but in a good way, like someone mixed in a ton of lotion. 

Once you get waist deep or so, you can easily lean back and begin to float. It is actually difficult to stay on your feet. If you have ever been in a pool before, or really any water, you know that if you lift up one leg, it is difficult to bring it back down quickly. In the Dead Sea, it is impossible, as soon as you shift your balance, you begin to float. 

 After you get used to it, you can relax and float around, using your arms to maneuver. Traditional swimming is impossible because if you try to swim on your stomach, your feet float right to the surface, throwing off your balance. Also, it is impossible to drown. But don’t get the water in your eyes! I have been told it is very painful.

The Dead Sea is supposed to have healing properties, as does the black mud. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any pictures of myself in the water or covered in black mud, but I assure you I did both. 

After floating around for a while, I went to the regular pool, which is an interesting sensation once you get use to floating so easily. Then back to the sea! I ended up chatting with a group of divers who were on a trip from Colorado and had been diving in Egypt and the Red Sea. They were a fun group and they gave me the nickname “Seattle” (after they found out where I was from) which I rather liked. 

I am rather sun-burnt now, between yesterday and today (oddly, I didn’t burn in Petra, when it was ridiculously hot). The weather is beginning to cool off a bit and was almost perfect today. It felt like spending the day at an outdoor spa, and I enjoyed it quite a lot. Another location I highly recommend! 

P.S. If you all wouldn't mind, I would like to conduct a little poll to find out who is reading my blog. I have been told by a few people, but in reality I have very little idea if anyone is actually reading this (outside of my immediate family, and I'm pretty sure there is some requirement that they have to read it...) Anyways, I'm just curious, so if you could click on the comments link below and leave a little note I would appreciate it! And thanks for reading!


  1. love the blog and the photos! Great stories Belle!

  2. I'm following you. :)
    The dead sea sounds so neat! I've always heard about it and it's neat to hear you talk about how easy it is to float. And I thought the mosaics were amazing too. I think the eggs were my favorite.
    I like hearing about your adventures and I'm glad you're blogging about them!

  3. Thanks for the pictures!!! What a great adventure you are on! I totally want to go swimming in the Dead Sea now!

  4. Isabelle - yours is a wonderful blog! Your mom phoned me so have just tuned in, 11/27. Thanks to you I'm on a vicarious trip to places I'd never expected to visit. So glad for all the lovely people and beautiful sites. Very proud of you! Love,Heather

  5. really you are saving your memories in blogging,great blog