Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dead Sea Enema

Its 12 noon.  Its the middle of winter.  Its a Friday.  The rest of Europe and America is off to work. 

I'm in my swim suit.  I'm at a 5 star resort. Its 24 degrees outside.  I'm floating in the dead sea.  

And my sphincter is on fire.

What does one do in this situation?  I'm supposed to be relaxing with the rich and well-to-do all around me and my wife Elodie just suggested that I try to float in a 'sitting up position' as if I'm reading the morning newspaper.

'Look the water is so salty that you can float sitting up' she says.

Something about that particular position just happened to 'open me up' to the harsh brutalities of dipping your body in 35% salt water....OWCH!  YOU BET YOUR ASS ITS SALTY!!!

This is the dead sea.  Full of rich vitamins from the natural springs below, it is known for its rich healing minerals but not so widely known for its colon cleansing properties.

We are pictured here at the Movenpick dead sea resort.  Movenpick is better known as a fancy ice-cream brand in Europe, but has somehow found the marketing power to convince people to stay at their hotels.  I expect Baskin Robbins to follow up with a string of branded motels along the Route 66 soon.

We arrived there early in the day and got our salt treatment, followed by a free mud treatment.  Basically, they give you a bucket of mud that smells a bit like dirt and fishbones but evidently when applied to your skin its supposed to pull out any toxins.  My theory is that it replaces those toxins with fishbone smell and drys your skin to a worser condition so I actually am not a believer that its actually good for you.  If however, you are into smelling like swamp fish stew, I can arrange to send you some in the mail for a minimal fee.

We went through the whole experience of the dead sea, massive swimming pools, pina coladas and shiatsu massage treatments.  Not to mention that its totally sweet that they pump you up full of strong arabic coffee  brewed over open fires in the traditional bedouin manner.  

We thought that the day was over but our driver introduced a few surprises.  We had been driven by the father of Elodie's driver at work and he didn't speak ANY english except for 'Welcome to Jordan.'   We would ask how far is the dead sea?  He would say, 'welcome to Jordan.'  Is the water cold?  'Welcome to Jordan.'  OK, so it was difficult to communicate with him unless we wanted to say 'This is our first time to your country.'

We pulled out of the Movenpick entrance at about 4 PM and headed off to home.  The phone rang and the driver picked it up and started looking around, swerving, and making multiple wrong turns.  We started the day off in a a luxury 5 star resort, and ended up being driven to a dirt parking lot next door.  

Hundreds of families were parked out in the lots with their barbecues at full blaze.  Kids playing in broken glass.  Bedouin merchants passed by on camels and horses to offer rides for 50 cents.  Garbage was everywhere.  We had unknowingly been invited to join in the weekend festivities with the driver and his family for the real Jordanian dead sea experience.   

We were treated to barbequed pieces of lamb, chicken, and minced beef with fresh pita breads and garlic yoghurt.  The best part about this was that the brother cooking the food had NO idea what Hooters meant on his sweater.

Six PM and it was time to go.  Wait a minute.  There are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 family members. One car.  How the HELL did they get here?   The answer: Car Yoga.  As other cars started to pull out of their spots, I watched whole families dog pile into their family cars.  One family I saw actually cut out the divider beween the back seat and the back window so that the kids could stand for the ride home.  Others put the children in the trunk to lie down with their brothers and sisters.

Since we had two extra spaces, we invited three of them to join us.  Hey, when in Rome right?

Exhausted, sun burnt, and smelling like fish bone soil, we thought.. its a shame that our other friends can't be here with us.  

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Jerashic Park

Welll, sorry for the long Hiatus. I had a Looooong bout with a stomach virus that I contracted from some awful falafel that I had at world famous Hashem's restaurant. Its so famous that even the royal family drop in there from time to time whenever they get sick of eating properly cleaned food in one of their many palaces. I'll take you there sometime.

So we had the great fortune of renting a 2005 chevy malibu from a Jordanian Hertz for the day, so we decided to go to Jerash. Why have I never heard of this place? Oh, probably because I couldn't even point to Jordan on a map 3 months ago, thats why.

But dang. This was a nice place. I went to a lot of Greek ruins a few years back in Athens, and they looked pretty ruined so you get kind of bored quickly. But this place was very well preserved. Like a park of Ancient Rome that Walt Disney setup so that you don't have to travel to several different places to get the full experience of the Roman empire and overpriced souvenirs. Here in Jerashic Park you get it all!

So the Roman Empire was quite large as I'm told, and it had gone down as far as the middle east. Several cities were erected to protect the territories in the Middle east and one of the best preserved ones is Jerash. I was quite surprised to see my best roman architectures so far to be in the middle east, but maybe someone wise hundreds of years ago thought that it would be good for tourism, so they preserved it well.

You first start off at Hadrians Arch where it dawns on you that you are no longer in Kansas. We snapped a few pictures just to prove that we were there and headed off down a path with fallen roman carved columns.

To the left there is a still operational hippodrome (for those who don't know what a hippdrome is, its where they raced horse chariots... not hippos. Watch gladiator for more information). We bumped into one of their ... eh hem.. 'gladiators' who offered to take a picture with us.

(No danger here of this one pointing his pinky finger at me!)

After taking pictures with the microwarrior we trudged up a hill to the sound of scottish music. Not quite clear what bagpipes were doing in a roman re-enactment but we found ourselves at a fantastically preserved roman theater. Evidently the Brits conquered Jordan for a while and left the locals a tradition for scottish bagpipes in the military bands and a pension for fried foods in their cuisine.

Here is a picture of elodie just before this rich Saudi guy asked Elodie to be his second wife. The first wife took elodies picture so that she could hire a witch doctor to cast a spell on her to give her warts. Just kidding if you didn't already guess.

After 15 minutes of bagpiping, we moved on up the hill to catch a glimpse of the entire park. Amazing...It was like stonehenge but with more stones. A circled plaza of roman columns could be viewed from the hills, with a temple dedicated to least thats what we think it was. It was all written in arabic so who really knows. After a while, tourists that saw that we had a book started asking us what these buildings were. We started making things up like, 'this is where they had their local starbucks'. 'I think this is the vomitorium.' 'I'm pretty sure they did sacrifices in this area.'

We wrapped up the day with a drive back home that only took 45 minutes. Talk about convenience. We had left the house at 12:30 and had an outright amazing experience seeing all this in half a day. I hope that you get a chance to connect to the full album via my facebook(click here) album. The place is one of the most beautiful places I've been to.