The Arabs call it al-Baḥr al-Mayyit (aka The Dead Sea) and it is the lowest point on earth sitting at 427m below sea level. This was my second visit the Dead Sea; I visited – and swam in it – on the Israeli side in 1992.
Irony is interesting and there is irony when it comes to the story of the creation of the Dead Sea. It was formed, or so the Jordanians tell us, back in Biblical times. You see it was here that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah existed. Being rather naughty places, God decided to destroy them. Abraham interceded and managed to have God pause in smiting the cities and two angels were dispatched to Sodom to visit with Abraham’s brother, Lot, to see if 10 good men could be found in the city and thereupon spare the cities God’s fire and brimstone. Finding none, the angels advised Lot and his family to leave and not look back. Unfortunately Lot’s wife, being either deaf or dumb, glanced back and was instantly turned into a pillar of salt (a pillar we in fact did see!).
The next day God took up the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into his hands and crushed them into the land; the land where today the Dead Sea exists. Presumably all the evil and badness that burst forth from these two dreadful cities tempered the waters of the Dead Sea to be so vile and salty. The irony arrives on scene with the fact that the Dead Sea, today, is a much sought after spa destination and its waters, and mud, are heralded as a panacea for all sorts of ailments and diseases.
After leaving Petra we drove through the mountains down to the Dead Sea for a swim before heading into Amman. Amman is Jordan’s capital and has vestiges of its rule by the Ottomans and its colonial protectorate rule by the British (when it was called Trans-Jordan). It is a tremendously sprawling city of 2.5 million citizens with zero regard for traffic rules and regulations (it even beat out Nairobi for the utter chaos of it all), monotone in colour and hot and dusty. I am glad, certainly, that I visited to tour its key archaeological sites – Jabal al-Qal’a (aka the Citadel), the Jordan Archaeological Museum, the Amman Folklore Museum and the 6,000-seat Roman theatre – but I am not sure I would return anytime soon. While in Amman we made our home at the palatial Le Meridien Amman, which was wonderful and a real oasis with endless restaurant choices including China Town (where we enjoyed some long-missed chinese cuisine) and a good club lounge.
3) here’s a video I shot from above
7) the Dead Sea Spa Hotel where we stopped for a swim
25) and finally a full 300 degrees view of Amman taken from atop the Citadel