Daytripping to the Dead Sea

A day trip to the Dead Sea with a Jordanian and his family

by ambigram0

I’m sitting in the front seat of a silver seven-seater Nissan on the way to the Dead Sea. The driver is a smiling man named Khaled who owns the hostel I’m staying at. In the back are his wife and two energetic young daughters. Thanks to my petrol money, Khaled gets to take his family out for the afternoon.

We drive for twenty minutes and then Khaled stops the car in a dusty two-lane road next to a big metal shed. He doesn’t pull to one side or anything, just stops in his lane. He gets out and goes into this makeshift store. He comes back out with a bunch of bananas and a handful of ice creams. He shares them out. Car horns are blaring behind us but Khaled stands in front of the car and waves at everyone behind us. “It’s okay,” he shouts, in English, then smiles at me.

The girls still have ice cream around their mouths when we get to the Dead Sea resort. They don’t like the Dead Sea itself so I leave the family by the pool as I head down to the lowest point on earth. I scamper across the burning hot sand to the water’s edge. The floating sensation is immediately apparent as I wade into the water.

I relax with my hands behind my head, water bobbing into my ears, looking up at the late-afternoon sun, hoping Khaled and his family are having as great a time as I am, until a wave comes along and splashes water into my eye. It stings, it really stings. It’s the salt. I can’t open my eye for about ten minutes because the pain is so bad. When I’m able to open my eye enough to walk in a straight line, I leave, shower, and head up to the pool.

“Yes, yes, that’s why we don’t go,” Khaled says to me after I tell him what happened. “But you tourist, you have to try it, yes?” I nod, wincing.

After a quick swim in the pool as the sun goes down over the Dead Sea, it’s time to go.

The kids fall asleep in the back of the car looking content. They’d enjoyed a great afternoon out of doing homework or playing in the house. As I watched the Jordanian landscape change from rural back to urban, I remembered trips out from when I was a kid – to Butlins or to the beach or caravanning in Wales watching the rain batter the windows as we played Uno or Monopoly. My brother and I always fell asleep in the back of the car on the ride home, tired and satisfied. I realised that, despite the language and the country and the climate and a thousand other things, this Jordanian culture was entirely familiar.

The world isn’t as big as we think it is.

Filed under: English Course (Reading)

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