Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dead Sea Area... From Oasis to Healing

This post will be about the South of Israel.  The next adventures we had on our trip were in the Dead Sea area.  Our destination that night was the Isotel Dead Sea, and it was to be a wonderful relaxing healing time.  I had not expected such a sumptuous resort with a fantastic spa.  We arrived travel weary and ready for some pampering and rest.

But first the Journey down, we snaked our way down from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea area.  Our first stop was at Ein Geti.  Ein Geti is a  nature preseve on the way south.  It is an oasis in the middle or harsh desert mountains.  You can tell you were there because it is actually an area of green that is not a kibbutz field growing dates trees.   

The entire drive down south was beautiful desert  interspersed with little communities with fields of fruit orchards or hoop houses for crop production.  The hoop houses were mostly empty in the summer months where it was just too hot to grow most crops.  However, in the winter those same hoop houses would be full and overflowing with growth.  As an avid gardener this was such a miracle to see in the harsh desert. 

Ein Geti, a fresh water spring that comes out of the mountain high above the oasis, is a beauty to behold.  The brave climb up and up to higher falls, given the time and the capacity to do it.  Even though this area is a oasis, you could not fool yourselves, this little green belt was still  the desert and the temperatures were up in the high 90's. We changed into swim clothing, and started along the path to the first water fall. We all took turns enjoying the shower of spring water that pored over the cliff above.   

It was great to see tourists, Israeli families, Religious Jews and Arabs a like all enjoying this wonderful location.   With my injured knee I could only go this far and could not lay down in the water as I wished to.  However I did enjoy the wonderful water and even had a chance for some private time at the oasis when the constant flow of people died down.   The adventurous in our group kept going along the path to the upper falls enjoying more beauty and wonder.

As I am one to meditate at such wonderful moments, I sat and concentrated on calm and clarity.  I asked my usual questions of what is next and how to do I get through the challenges I and my family face in our lives.   The answers I received, while rather private, summed up to the realization that I needed to take time to keep the Sabbath.

When I first left Israel in 1995 I was determined to have Shabbat Dinner every Friday night in my home.  I kept this up for years, inviting friends and family to join us for this chill and fun evening.   Somewhere along the way we lost this tradition and this evening and subsequent day became like all others. It became another time of work, ordinary and empty.  

My life had become beyond busy over the last year, working ridiculous hours as I started two businesses and at times worked four jobs.  I knew there was no way I could keep this up and the answer of how to go on was to try to go back to enjoying the shabbath and give myself this time to rest and heal each week.  The answer was not to allow this time to be sucked up into the frenzy of work and expectations.

Next we moved on to Masada.  Unfortunately it was about 3 in the afternoon by then and the heat was getting unbelievable.  Last time I went up Masada in 1994, it was around 5 in the morning and the sun was just coming up.  Conversly three in the afternoon was a bit on the hot side and we took the cable car up.   We did a quick tour of the top as we all melted in the heat.  It was one of the moments that we were all thinking "yup, saw it... lets go.".   My mother turned a shade of red in the heat that I had not ever seen before.   

Masada was amazing because the view was great and you got a great idea of the brutality of the history.  The story was compelling and showed the determination of both a small group of zealot and the army that eventually took the mountain top fortress. 

Next, we went to the Dead Sea Resort and checked into our sumptuous rooms for a two day stay.  We said goodbye to our wonderful tour guide and driver, Ruben and Arron.  They really enriched the trip and gave us a smooth experience.  

We hit the pools and relaxed into the healing waters.   The hotel had a private pool in the spa area, for adults, to go into the Dead Sea waters without having to walk across the road and go directly into the actual sea.  We still went to the sea of course at times,  It was so wonderful to see the kids reaction to going into this high salt concentration sea.

Science Moment: The Dead Sea has such high concentrations of salt that you automatically float in the water.  Regular sea water has about 3% salt where the Dead Sea has about 30% salt content.

The Dead Sea was great and healing for everyone.  The water is also very healing and was a wonderful help for my knee.  Several in our group suffer with various skin conditions such as psoriasis and were looking forward to seeing how the waters would help and heal.   

My nephew Jonny had never floated before as he just had no extra fat on his body at all.  He was so excited to actually float in the water.  The one hard thing was that any cuts or sores anyone had immediately started to burn in pain in the high salt water. My sister got some Vaseline to help cover obvious sores and irritated areas.  

We enjoyed our time in this area relaxing after so many days of touring one thing after another. Here we got to just chillax, as Joel calls it.   We hardly left the resort, enjoying the end of time together as a family.  We all knew this great tour was coming to an end and that many of us would be leaving shortly to return home.

The air was also healing in the Dead Sea area.  The minerals in the water are also diffused into the air. We all bought lots of Dead Sea stuff in the Ahava Store and stocked up for great stuff.  By the time we left the area we were all feeling strong and wonderful.   

I want to take this moment to thank my Dad for making this trip happen and all my family that took their time, energy and funds to come and join us on this adventure.  I feel it was formative for our family and I enjoyed all the wonderful moments together. This trip really was fantastic and I miss you all every day.  

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