Some of you may have noticed that it has been a comparably long time since I last posted. To emphasize how excessive length this length of time is, I actually went to the Dead Sea three weeks ago and had enough time to go back again yesterday. I've been waiting to post until I got the Dead Sea photos from one of my friends. I've also been waiting until I made more progress investigating microloans. One of those things has happened. This post is filled with pictures of me at the Dead Sea. Besides that I've had a frustrating lack of progress on my project. I've contact several organizations and individuals but haven't gotten many responses. The responses I have gotten have been extremely slow to develop. I hope that by the end of the week I'll have a more extensive and interesting project update for you.
As for what I've been up to. I have been taking Arabic classes, meeting Ex-Pats working at NGO's (these are my more fruitful contacts), and interacting with what Jordanians I can. It's been hard to gain access to many Jordanians; but, luckily, two of my flatmates are from Jordan and provide some insight into the inter workings of the country.
I've been reading more material on microloans and economic development in Jordan. It's frustrating to be reading about the country that I'm staying in. I want to learn all of this through personal and interactive experiences, not through my computer. Almost, every day I feel like I'm not doing enough for my project. I'm trying my darnedest to fix that, but I'm in a rut. I'm already leaving for India in 5 weeks. Hopefully more will develop soon.
Okay now for some happy pictures and stories. I went to the Dead Sea three weeks ago with a bunch of people from my Arabic school and again yesterday with some of my roommates. The Dead Sea, for those who don't know, is 429 m below sea level, the lowest elevation on land. On one side is Jordan, on the other side is Israel and the West Bank. The Dead Sea has 34% salinity, which means it is really f***ing salty. If you want a Dead Sea lobster for dinner on your visit, you'd be sorely out of luck. The sea is so salty that nothing lives in it, hence the name.
The first time I went, I spent the day at a lovely resort that you can pay a 20 JD fee to visit for the day. Below are the amazing views of the Dead Sea and pool.
It was luxurious to move between the cool water of the pool and the less pleasant water of the sea. The second time I went we went to the public beach. Although free, it was littered by trash and the shower was right next to a toilet (ie. a conspicuous hole in the ground). You can probably tell which one I would recommend if you visit yourself.
Some tips and insight if you ever find yourself in the Dead Sea. Number One: Don't dunk your head unless you want to feel like someone poured acid in your eyes. Two: the minerals in the Dead Sea make it feel oily and, some might say, disgusting. Make sure there is a fresh water shower accessible. Three: The only thing around the Dead Sea are expensive (aka one night is equivalent to a month's worth of my rent) resorts. So don't spend the night. Four: the Dead Sea is so salty you float at the top with no effort what so ever. It takes actual effort to sink, which goes to show, you shouldn't do it. Five: the Dead Sea mud is supposed to be good for your skin. Make sure you find some of the mud, the right kind is the consistency of a thick cream, and rub it all over your body. Go Mudd! (that is a subtle, not so subtle, shout-out to Harvey Mudd).
Yesterday, I also visited the Baptism site of Jesus. I put my legs into the Jordan River, or holy water that was a holy color. At the Jordan River, which is the main source of water in Jordan, Israel was only about 5m away.
The supposed place of baptism of Jesus is where the water rests in a cross-shape. (Apparently a spring flows through the intersection from March-May. That is a relief because the water looked like a cesspool.) I learned from a friend, that attended this same place on the Israel-side, that they have a similar church constructed there. So I'm not sure historians know the exact place Jesus was baptized, but only that it was in the general area.