Daniel Adler’s Dead Sea Tips

daniel adler
Daniel Adler on Masada with the Dead Sea in the distance.

Camels have bad teeth. Our camel we named Monterrey. They are strong, like horses but they have a cloven foot and chew the cud.

When we arrived at Masada the sunlight shone through the clouds onto the Dead Sea illuminating it. The cloud cover is heavier and the sun shines more strongly. Masada was built on the top of a mountain. Ravines made the fort impossible to penetrate unless you’re a Romanarmy and you have slaves at your disposal to lug wood from hundreds of miles away to pour thousands of buckets of sand over it. Roman ruins, with cisterns to capture the rain water when it flash floods.

I was thinking the Dead Sea would be pure pleasure, but it’s quite perilous. Get a few drops in your eyes and you cannot open them because the burn is so excruciating. You cannot splash and when you dunk your head and your forehead gets wet and droplets fall from your eyebrows into your eyes and you want to wipe them but your hands are covered in this saline solution you cannot because that only makes it worse and so you must lie on your back and close your eyes and float the pain away. A skinny white haired old man learned this when he threw balls of clay from the sea-bottom at his fat friends (the clay contains many oils and minerals and is great for your skin). Then he slipped and we all watched with empathy as he tried to hide his pain, the fool wiping his eyes with the backs of his hands. Some can’t stomach it; they splash and have to immediately leave to wash out their eyes. But for those who, like me, are dedicated to the float, you have to focus on keeping your feet beneath you; as soon as you stop, you float like a cork. Afterwards, your skin will be smoother than a baby’s.

In the bus on the way to Jerusalem I closed my eyes and woke up on the Mount of Olives. Where Jesus wept.

By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.


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