Throwing common sense to the wind, and being a regular swimmer, McCrankpin dived into the Dead Sea as though it were his local pool, attempting the impossible: to get under the water.
And here he learneth today's biblical lesson: incredibly salty water in eyes nose and mouth is verily an uncomfortable sensation. Yea, it hurteth like hell, and requireth an emergency rinse from the bottle of water brought along for his after-Dead-Sea-swim mini-shower.
Verily it is a strange experience, standing halfway out of the water, both feet a foot above the sea bed.
We had arrived a couple of hours earlier, dropping like a stone on the panoramic road from Madaba, from 2800 feet to minus 1200 feet in a riot of scenic hairpin bends.
Above the Dead Sea, the Panorama route plunging downwards. At this point, the GPS showed zero feet above sea level.
The Dead Sea.
Our search for a camping place then took us along the coastal road, a rocky fifty to two hundred feet above the water. At the Wadi Mujib nature reserve, which was closed for the winter, a conservation worker suggested we ask at the nearby police checkpoint.
There we were welcomed and directed to a large area just outside the fence of their compound, perfect, and full of firewood. And a few minutes walk from the water's edge.
Later, with fire going and food underway, the chief of the checkpoint and one of his officers came over for a chat. It was an eye-opener. He had one wife, was looking for another, and his dad had two. He had four children, his dad eleven. He couldn't fathom why in England we only have one wife.
"Why, why you only have one wife? Where is the problem??"
Our Arabic and his English were altogether insufficient to explain, so he remained puzzled by our strange English custom.
Then he noticed Beau's late-evening speciality - jar of Marmite and a bread roll. Let's face it, Marmite soldiers is an English custom even stranger than only having one wife, and again our attempts at explanation failed completely. So he took the plunge, and a man-sized bite.
Immediately it was plain to us that this was even worse for him than a headlong plunge below the waters of the Dead Sea. His face screwed up. "Sorry! So sorry!" As he quickly but carefully spat the whole lot out.
"Why, why you eat this horrible stuff??"
But it was an interesting aspect of our contacts with Jordanians. Unlike all the previous countries, whenever we explained our journey, its route, destination and duration, we received, "Why? Why you do this thing??"
Up until now it had only ever been wide eyes, incredulous looks and a hearty handshake.
We stayed the next night in a 'Resthouse' high above the other end of Wadi Mujib, well east of the Dead Sea.
Above Wadi Mujib
Breakfast above the Wadi.
Posted by Ken Thomas at November 28, 2009 10:36 PM GMT
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