Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


When we were in Israel, we saw plenty of water... and not only the kind you use to dilute your single-barrel bourbon.

There was the Mediterranean Sea. Tel Aviv is a coastal town, and we took advantage of our proximity to the beach.  The sand was hot, the water cool and inviting.  The biggest hazard? Getting smacked in the head by a flying squash ball from the ubiquitous young men playing matkot - beach tennis.

Tel Aviv Sunset HDR
The sun sets over the Mediterranean - the view from our hotel in Tel Aviv.

Following the coastline northward, we admired the sea once again in Caesarea...

Caesarea HDR
The surf at Caesarea.  Pretty, but no surfers in evidence.

...and watched it crash against the shore in Rosh HaNikra, hard by the Lebanese border. The shady grottoes there offered a bit of respite from the summer heat.

Waters of Rosh HaNikra
Look - there’s a dude standing on that rock looking like he’s ready to jump in.  Don’t do it, Rock-Dude!

Color Grotto
One of the grottoes at Rosh HaNikra.

As we headed east, there was the Sea of Galilee - Yam Kinneret - where Jesus is supposed to have walked on water.

Yam Kinneret at Dawn
Yam Kinneret - the Sea of Galilee - at sunrise.

We saw no drunken U. S. Congressmen skinny-dipping there, thank goodness. That might have put us off our feed.

Strangest of all, though, was the Dead Sea, AKA Yam HaMelach - the Salt Sea. Like the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea is not a true sea, but rather a largish lake.

Dead Sea
The Dead Sea as seen from Masada.  The mountains in the background are in Jordan.

Due to its extreme salinity (~31%), fish do not live in the Dead Sea... except possibly for the Wild Gravlax.  The beach is encrusted with a thick rind of natural halite - rock salt - and walking upon it without shoes is akin to walking barefoot through a hot parking lot paved with a blend of asphalt and broken beer bottles.

Floating Like a Cork
Fulfilling a decades-old dream, Elisson bobs like a damned cork in the amazingly saline waters.

They warn you before you take a dip in the Dead Sea that you should take off any metal jewelry.  I’m guessing that if your rings or other adornments are of the wrong type of metal, they will either corrode or they’ll act like some sort of weird Voltaic pile and generate enough electricity to cook you like a fly on a bug zapper.  They also tell you that if you have any tiny crevices or imperfections in your skin, the Dead Sea salt will seek them out like a laser-guided pain missile.  Get any of that stuff in your eyes?  Fuhgeddaboudit.

Fortunately, I did not - as they say - Feel the Burn.  The water felt strangely heavy, almost oily, but it buoyed me up as though I were floating on mercury.  The burn came later, after I showered, toweled off, and parked myself on a beach chair.  What did that time-and-temperature sign say, anyway?  Fifty degrees?

Holy Crapoly - that’s One Hundred Twenty Two on the old Fahrenheit scale.  In Hebrew, that’s Cham Meod, which translates loosely as “hotter than a two-dollar pistol.”  I sure could’ve used a G&T...


Erica said...

I actually walked, barefoot, upon the "beach" surrounding the Dead Sea. I was not about to wear my sneakers in the water, so I dumbly took my chances. It was pretty awful.

Elisson said...

I brought a pair of water shoes with me, thank Gawd. Walking on that halite crust without 'em was extremely uncomfortable... I know this 'coz I made the mistake of trying it.