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Dead Sea, Masada, and Ein Gedi

By zamorse

Studying abroad is all about adventures with your friends. That's why this weekend my friends and I rented a car and drove to the other end of the country to have a little adventure.

We drove down from Haifa on Saturday morning at 6AM all the way down to the Dead Sea, only about a three hour drive, but literally on the other side of the country, that's how small Israel is. We found a spa on the side of the road, and for only about $20, had access to pretty much everything there.

The Dead Sea is a body of water lying on the border between Jordan and Israel that is so dense with salt you float it. You walk into the water, turn around, and fall backwards into the water. From then on you don't have to tread water because you just float where you are. The water is supposed to be really good for you skin. Once we got out, we found a pile of the famous Dead Sea mud and put it all over out bodies. The mud is also supposed to be really good for you skin. Then we went back in the sea to rinse the mud off. And from there we went and relaxed by the pool and ate ice cream. Such a hard life.

Then we drove south to go find our youth hostel. Our hostel was located about 45 minutes south through the desert literally up against the border with Jordan. All of the signs were in English, Hebrew, and Thai, because the Moshav ( a type of Israeli town) we were staying in must have employed a lot of Thai workers, which definitely says something about Israeli society. We hung out around the campfire and then went to bed at 9PM, because we were that tired and because....

We woke up at 4AM the next morning. Sunrise was at 6:22AM. Now that's important to know because it was important that we be at the top of Masada to see the sunrise. Masada is an ancient Jewish fortress atop a mountain that was destroyed by the Roman Empire, and is famous because of the battle that took place there and because all of the families ended up committing suicide to save their honor before the Romans got to them. We drove there in a hurry in the pitch black desert night and hiked up all the way to the top before the sun rose. It was absolutely beautiful. Then we explored the ruins atop the mountain and hiked back down to our car.

We then drove a few kilometers north to Ein Gedi, which is a natural spring and series of waterfalls in the desert. It was beautiful, and we got to hop in the water a little bit, but it the narrow path was so full of Israeli school children that it wasn't as much fun as I had remembered it. We then drove to a public beach and went back in the Dead Sea before we drove all the way back to Haifa.

Such a great weekend, and such beautiful scenery. Weekends like that one remind me of why I studied abroad.