Sunday, Jul 03, 2022

Dead Sea Diary

The extraordinarily salty water body packs many a pleasurable — and painful — punch

Dead Sea Diary Illustration by Saahil

The Most Painful Sea

I remember from my school geography that the Dead Sea is one of the saltiest on earth. I never realised its implications until I felt the sea against my skin. It is so saline that it does not even feel like water—rather a concoction of oil and mud. My hosts had warned me to not shave for a couple of days before my visit. Even minor cuts can flare up in the brackish water. And most importantly, do not let the water get into your eyes. Updated with these instructions, I waded in carefully. The buoyancy felt odd in the beginning, but after half an hour or so, I began enjoying the bobbing. A while later, I saw two Indian tourists at the edge, one of whom gushed “kitna accha paani hai” (such beautiful water). She stooped down and before I could warn her, cupped her hands and splashed the sea on her face. The paroxysm of screaming that followed was ghastly. To calm her, her companion threw even more seawater into her eyes. Thankfully, someone managed to find a pipe of freshwater and hosed her down. As unfortunate as her was my friend who had a spicy meal the night before—victuals that burn you twice, at the entry and exit gates. And of course, it burns every time you enter the super-salty sea!

Float on Water, Sink in Land