The Dead Sea is a great idea in theory. Relax in the warm sun and water, floating along without having to do anything to hold your head above water.
In order to have that much buoyancy though, there is a certain amount of salt required. While floating was a unique experience, the salt was a painful one. Salt water ebbed and flowed over every small cut, scratch, and raw part of my skin. My hands, from all the digging, were the worst off, but my feet weren’t to be outdone after finding many jagged rocks on the sandy floor of the Dead Sea.
Salt water also makes its way into places one would prefer it not venture, too.
Needless to say, I spent my 10 minutes in the water for the experience and then quickly hurried to shower off. We spent the rest of our weekend lounging in freshwater pools and enjoying the comforts of air-conditioning and flush toilets.
As the dig is winding down, we’ve had a celebratory dinner – a traditional Bedouin mansef. It’s a huge rice dish topped with chunks of lamb and a creamy yogurt sauce. We ate in the traditional fashion, grabbing chunks of rice and meat with our right hands, balling it up and tossing it into our mouths.
This is all more difficult than it sounds. The idea its hat you use the yogurt sauce to make the rice sticky, and in the spirit of cleanliness and shared eating, your hand should not touch your mouth. You have to give that little food ball some loft and aim well to get it in your food hole.
I don’t think many of us were too successful on our first time out, and therefore, we ate less than normal. Mansef is had work, and the majority of us are too uncoordinated to distinguish between getting food in our mouths versus getting food on the floor.
In the end, it was a very fun meal though!
On the subject of Bedouin traditions, our forman, Abu Isa, has taught me the art of making traditional Bedouin tea. It’s tasty stuff, and I’m in the process of picking up supplies (i.e.: a giant bag of black ceylon tea) to make some for all of you at home. It’s very sweet tea, but you’ll like it, I promise.