The Dead Sea, Jordan – The Salt Flats

There is a certain kind of beauty in Jordan that I did not expect. Once I finally got out of the city and started to explore what the country had to offer, I was shocked to find this vast expanse of desolate isolation that many would consider stark, but it holds something to it that I don’t think you can find anywhere else on earth. I do believe that this is the reason why so many movies make this the location for their filming because it makes the setting a character all its own, and Jordan’s landscape is definitely a character.

The Dead Sea adds so much to this character, and the more I learn about it, the more interesting it becomes. It has been basically retreating over the last century, and it is not near the same levels that it once was at. Much of this is due to the fact that water is taken out of the Jordan River to cultivate agriculture in both Jordan and Israel, and because of this, there is not as much water left for this huge body of water situated so far below sea level. If you look closely, you can see the scars in the rocks that has been left behind because of this retreat which present a new sense of history that I have never considered before.

But on the shore of this location there is another sight that is even more impressive than the scars in the rocks, the collection of the salt on the shores of the sea. The simplest of spices clings to anything that it can find and creates a bizarre grouping of waves that never will move, even if the water laps up against it.

It will take the forgotten branches of trees and turn them into a piece of art that only nature could create. There is a beach on the Dead Sea that is covered with sights like this one, and it makes for one of the most interesting day trips I have ever taken. It was only a fifteen minute drive from the collection of resorts that most people stay at when they come down here, and just a little south past the entrance to Wadi Mujib.

We went down on a Sunday when everybody was back at work, and there were only a couple of other cars there, and only one other couple that we came across while we were exploring the flats. It is easy to miss too, but it was free to go explore, and I am so glad that we did.

Every turn we made gave s a new view of spectacular natural structures that made we want to spend the whole day exploring the beach. I would recommend going down early in the morning because it can get hot during the day, and it does bring out the flies, but it is still fun to explore in this kind of heat.

It just made me fall even more in love with Jordan, and made me realize that this might be one of those hidden gems that not many people know about. I am glad that I have gotten to explore it, and can’t wait to see what other amazing sights I will come across while I am living out here.

The Dead Sea, Jordan

For my first trip to explore my new home country, Jordan, I decided on a must do, the Dead Sea. It was not high on my list, and I will be honest with you, I was a little scared about getting in the water. There are numerous stories about people who have dunked their heads under the salty water, or have it squirm its way into somebody’s forgotten cut, and then having to deal with that discomfort for the rest of the day. I have had several mosquito bites that have been healing, and I didn’t not want to literally pour salt into that wound.

But the salty shores are one of those things you have to experience while you are out here, and considering I won a free night at one of the hotels by the Dead Sea through a raffle at my new school, I figured this would be the perfect time to go and check it out.

First, it is quite the descent from the high elevation of Amman. The whole trip down was literally down the mountain from 1000 meters all the way to 400 meters below sea level. My ancient Mitsubishi Lancer did a great job going down, but I am worried if the two cylinder car will be able to make it back up that hill when it is time to go back home. It is something that I can’t worry about right now. Instead, I had to make the most of my time at the lowest point of land on the Earth.

The water has a very high buoyancy level. I have heard about how it is impossible to sink in it because of the level of salt that is found in the water, and there is a lot of truth to that claim. All I had to do was raise my feet off of the floor, and they floated to the top of the water on their own, and I was able to relax as if I was on one of those six feet floaties that people put into pools so they can stay dry and still read their books.

The water wasn’t that bad either. It was really warm, and though my cuts did ache a little bit, it wasn’t the excruciating pain that I thought I would have experienced. There is a little bit of a routine that you are supposed to participate in to make the most out of the experience. First, I hopped into the water to become accustomed to it. When I got out, I quickly rinsed off, and then lathered up with mud that they kept in huge stone vessels on the beach. It is supposed to be good for your skin. Some people covered themselves from head to toe, but I went for a more sparse amount, only covering my limbs and my chest. I then sat down to let the mud dry before getting back in the water and feeling the exfoliating experience that comes with the combination. Though the mud was a little slimy to put on, it was worth the experience because it felt really good when I got back into the water.

It made for a fun day that I won’t soon forget. It is not everyday that you can get slathered up in mud and float in an ocean without any assistance, and feel great out afterwards. I can easily see why it is one of the places that people make sure they visit when they come out to Jordan, and it has gotten me more excited about what adventures I am going be able to encounter.

Saying Goodbye

It is hard to believe that a short two months ago, I sat at the Bangkok airport with all of my bags packed, getting ready to head back to the United States for the first time in two years. As for most people around the world, it had been an interesting two years, and I was excited to get back to see the people I loved. It was going to be a little different from other trips back home because the threat of the pandemic loomed large over everything everybody did, and I was also going to go through the process of moving to a new country at the same time.

Despite all of this fear that was plaguing the world, there was still hope. A vaccine had become available and people were starting to take off their masks to get life back to normal. We were a little worried when we first started looking at coming back that we would have a hard time finding a shot, but by the time we landed in Portland, Oregon, there was enough vaccine in the United States to where we could walk into a local Target and get a vaccine without an appointment. We also were able to leave Thailand just in time. The numbers have skyrocketed in that country for the first time ever with the latest numbers showing over 17,000 new cases just the other day, and it does not look like it is going to slow down anytime soon. I feel for all of the people I left behind in that country, and I worry about them as they struggle through another school year. I hope that they can get things under control soon, and find a place where they can start easing up the restrictions that I got to enjoy while I was living out there.

As I went through my stuff in storage, my sights switched over to Jordan to see how they were handling this crisis. The numbers there a lot lower, but there has been a new creep up that I will keep an eye on. I also look at those numbers for overall vaccination, and though Jordan is not in a place where America is at, they still steadily move in the right direction. It gives me hope for the next year that it will be closer to a normal school year as opposed to the last two, and I will also be going on a new adventure in a new country at the same time.

The summer was still a great time to catch up with friends and family, and meet new characters along the way. I always find myself falling into that comfortability that it means being an American in America. The old relationships feel like we pick them up right where we left them off, and the conveniences that we have come to crave while away are once again taken for granted.

But we were able to discover some new ways that America has evolved as well. I remember being excited about the movie, Chef, right before we started our overseas adventures, but thinking that the land of food trucks that it described was a little taken out of context. There might have been a couple of places where these existed, but there seemed to be more of them during our return visit. It almost seemed that this was the preferred way of dining out, but summertime and Covid might have had something to do with it as well.

That didn’t stop me from searching out the more traditional way of eating out. Of course, I hit my fair share of Mexican restaurants while in Colorado because I needed to get as much green chili as I could. This is my favorite of all food groups, and everybody I meet who has ever eaten green chili understands my love for it, yet I am still confused as to why it can still only be found in three of the four states connected with the four corners region. It makes coming home that much better because I get to have this food again. I still do not believe that I got enough on this trip out, but I still enjoyed what I had.

I also love being able to see the beauty of America every time I am home as well. I am really lucky to be associated with what I consider to be two of the more beautiful states, Oregon and Colorado. I love seeing the mountains and forests that both of these places have to offer. Though I have seen some beautiful and amazing sights all over the world, my heart always returns to the mountains and I don’t think of any place better than these two for me to connect back with them. I was able to spend a good amount of time in them in Oregon, and I wish I would have ventured beyond the foothills during my stay in Colorado.

I was still able to make it outside quite a bit and enjoy the majesty that is Colorado. Whether it was taking long walks in many of the green spaces that can be found in many of Colorado’s neighborhood, or going out to Chatfield Reservoir, I was able to spend a lot of time outside. This is not something that is as enjoyable in a more tropical climate, and there are times of the year where Colorado is better spent indoors, but I was out here during the summertime and this is the perfect time to be outside there.

I was even lucky enough to experience some of the wildlife during my trip. During the last couple of years, I had run into what many would consider exotic animals, with Thailand filled with many types of monkeys, tropical birds, and a variety of reptiles, and snakes. But this is only a matter of perspective. From the other side of the world, a herd of deer or elk is just as exotic as a monitor lizard is to the people of America. Being deprived of this view for so long has made it exciting once again, and I enjoyed it every time I came across the usual herds of animals that I grew up with.

Not everything ended up in taking me to the great outdoors. There were a couple of stops that showed me other great things that America had to offer, and they were not always Target stores. The greatest had to be the new U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs. It was nice to get out to museums once again, and though I had to spend my time in there wearing a mask, I have been doing it so much lately that it no longer bugs me. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon and a great way of celebrating the Olympics this year.

It has been great to get back to America, especially after two years away, but nobody can spend their whole life in rest and relaxation. Like an international school teacher under normal circumstances, I have to get back to the country where my work is, and I am complicating the process by changing schools and countries to Amman, Jordan. So I have packed up my bags, eaten those last meals, and given those last hugs to family and friends, and I have headed off the airport. I am confident that the world is moving in the right direction, and I will not be forced to stay away for as long this time around. So as I head off to a brand new adventure, I say goodbye to America, and guarantee I will be back soon.

Show Off Those Guns Vaccinated People

No, we are not wearing bandaids because we got boo boos, and most of the time my workout routine does not highlight the definition of my arms, but this was an exciting moment. It was that final step that we needed to take to get back to the lives we wanted to live, and not one where we are stuck indoors all the time. It will make a little bit easier, but it won’t get to that perfect place until the rest of the population does their parts and gets vaccinated as well. Then the masks will be able to come off, the restaurants will open again to full service, and the one I am looking forward to the most, travel will start up again. Everyday, the country inches closer to that goal of herd immunity and I can’t wait until it gets there. As of the writing of this post, Oregon (where I am at right now) has 58.1% of the population vaccinated, Colorado (where I will be next) has 57.4%, and the country of Jordan (the place I will be moving to at the end of the year) is at 21.7%. Those are some exciting numbers. It does not mean that I will get to see that goal of being able to travel around the world freely anytime soon, but at least things seem to be moving in the right direction.

Getting my second shot almost didn’t happen too. I had an appointment scheduled at 11:00 yesterday, and the place I was going to called me up at 9:30. Their refrigerator broke the night before, causing their vaccine supply to be spoiled. At first, I didn’t know what to do, but after getting on the phone and calling a couple of other places, we were able to find one that had the same dose that we needed and we could walk right in. The pharmacy we went to was a little busy, but we were still able to get in and out within a half an hour. It showed me how easy they are making this for everybody, and if people want to get back to life as normal, they need to go in and get their shots. This way the United States government can send more vaccines to other countries. The world will get that herd immunity that is needed to make it safe again, and we can put this pandemic behind us.

I will be honest. The second dose hit me a lot harder than the first dose did. After the first shot, I only had a sore arm which made it hard if I slept on one of my sides, but after taking the second shot, I got a little bit of a chill, and a wicked headache that made sleep hard for one night. It was a little uncomfortable, but it made me realize how terrible it would be if I contracted the real Covid-19 virus. It also lets me know that the vaccine is working. After a restless night’s sleep and a couple of cups of coffee in the morning, I am feeling a lot better, and I know that it will only be one day before I can get back to feeling normal. It is a small price to pay to know that I am safe and that I will not be spreading the disease to other people that I come in contact with.

So there is only one thing left for the rest of the people to do. If you haven’t gotten your shot yet, go out there and get it. Push the numbers up and get to that herd immunity rate. Let’s get the world operating again, and let’s quit hearing these death reports and stories of people stuck indoors. Go get that bandaid and show off your guns proudly, knowing that you have done your part pushing the world to the place where it needs to be.