The Judean desert and the Dead Sea are the most desolate places I have ever seen. The Old Testament says that that God's judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah changed the area around the Dead Sea from being lush and fertile to desolation.
The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulpher, nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zebolim which the LORD overthrew in fierce anger. Deut. 29:23
It was amazing to us to see the Bedouin camps along the way. We wondered how anyone could live in this wilderness without running water, electricity or ready access to food and medicine. Our Israeli guide told us that the Israeli government had built free homes for the Bedouin and tried to get them to move in, but some of them clung to their traditional way of life. He said that most Bedouin were not nomads anymore but stayed in permanent or semi-permanent encampments like this one.
We stopped at a "spa" near the Dead Sea and of course we had to change into our bathing suits so we could say we swam
in that famous place. The water is really buoyant and slimy--sort of oily. However if you have any small cuts on your skin it stings like the devil! I'm glad we did it, but not sure it is something I need to do again. Here is our group displaying their finesse with a Dead Sea water ballet:
There are a couple of Old Testament prophecies about the Dead Sea again becoming fresh and life-giving (Ezekiel 47: 8-11 and Zechariah 4:8). Because water from the Jordan river is being diverted by both Jordan and Israel for irrigation, there is less water going into the Dead Sea and it is shrinking at an alarming rate according to our guide. I'm fortunate to have seen it.
As we got back on the bus to return to Jerusalem after a long day in the desert, El Jefe was gratified to see he had Blackberry service in the Judean desert.
And so it goes....