Dead Sea For Free!

April 14, 2017

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Yusuf had to work in the middle of the day, so I'm kind of stuck doing something on my own during the day. He is free to go after 3 or 6 or something. Idk, it wasn't important to me. So around 10 (yes, it was a late start to the day...bite me) I hopped a 218 bus to Jerusalem so I could connect to Kalia Beach. On the bus, I'm always infuriated when I have to pass the border and all of the Palestinians get off and must go through the border by foot. It's so sad that they have to do that in their own country. Plus, I see Israeli soldiers abusing their power and littering all over the place. It's like the Stanford prison experiment brought to life. Give a bunch of 19-20 year olds guns and they abuse their power.

Anyways, I get to Jerusalem and run all over the city trying to find the gosh darn bus stop. I hop down to some Arab sub-town and there isn't anything there. I go to the top of the bridge where there is a bus stop but no buses seem to be coming. Dumb. So eventually I just bite the bullet and go to the central bus station. Here I catch a bus (although the bus driver confuses the crap out of me) and off we go. Something was wrong with his payment thing so everyone paid while we were on the road...I didn't. So when we got to the stop, I asked the guy beside me what I should do and he just said get off without paying. Huh, okay. I saved 10$ that way! Felt bad, but still, I'll take it.

I get off at the stop and some Palestinian guys start asking me to come to their car (in Arabic). So they basically tell me they're going to take me to the resort at the Dead Sea, apparently with the caveat that I help them get into it...but I didn't realize that. Oops. So when we got there they said a bunch of stuff in Arabic (obviously waiting for me to get them in...which I don't have the power to do) and I'm like "da fuq". I then hand them my phone to use Google Translate (I have to download the Arabic keyboard, of course) and they type something that translates to "We are going to die with you for something new". Even more "da fuqs" ooze from my body. As they're arguing amongst themselves, I meet some Russian people looking to get in and they speak poor English. We talk very briefly and the people start yelling at them in Arabic then (probably asking if THEY can get them in). During this time, I sneak up to the gate and speak to the Israeli guy who lets me in. That's the last I saw of those Palestinian guys. I felt bad, but oh well.

I got into the resort (it was the equivalent of 10$ US I think) and walked around. I got a locker for my stuff, put on the swim trunks I had bought prior in the trip, and headed down to the beach. Nicole informed me earlier that I might need sandals as the ground was very glass-like...well, I didn't. However, everything went well. The water was nothing like I expected. First of all, everyone told me it would burn a crapton to go into if I had any cuts...apparently I didn't. I didn't feel anything when I got in. The next thing hey usually say is that the feeling would be weird because you float. Originally I didn't think this was the case as I walked away from the beach, but when I lifted my feet and tried to float it was so easy! I think the most astounding part was just how difficult it was for me to get my feet back down! I actually struggled. It was a cool experience. After that I tried to get a little bit of sun but it didn't work all too well. The views were beautiful though!

Dead Sea on right and Jordanian Mountains in the back.

As I began to think about leaving, I realized no bus came by the resort. Furthermore, because of Shabbat most buses stopped running by 5 meaning they wouldn't be making too many runs after 3...which was the time. So, I meet three other Americans (all older than me) and we all try to figure out travel. We get out to the highway and wait for a bus at the stop (with one possibly coming in an hour) but then a lady starts hitchhiking and eventually gets a car. We had talked a little earlier so she asked if I needed a ride to Jerusalem too and I said yes and we hopped in and headed to the Holy City!

The car ride was nice. The beginning was just them talking in Hebrew so I zoned out, but then we all began talking about random things. They asked where I was and were envious of my age and traveling the world (it's not super easy to travel with an Israeli passport) and we all have a jolly good time. It was during this time that I realized I had gotten to and from Kalia Beach...for free! That's so cool. Completely unintended, but a nice perk.

In the back seat of...a friend's...car.

As we get nearer to Jerusalem, they ask me where I'm traveling to next. I tell them I'm going to Ramallah and they have no idea what to say because they aren't allowed to go to Ramallah. They warn me that apparently two hours earlier (or about an hour after I got off) on the light rail that there was a stabbing and that I should be careful in Palestine. I thank them for their concern and head for the light rail with the lady. We ride to our destinations and go our separate ways. I'll miss them.

When I got back, Yusuf told me his hostel was full so I had to book with Area D again. I wasn't too sad. I think I liked Area D more. I got back and did some planning and catch-up on my phone before heading to hang out with Yusuf some.

In Hostel in Ramallah (Yusuf's hostel), I got dinner and watched the beginning of inception. Yusuf then decided he wanted to go out, so I obliged. He brought along one of his friends (from France) named Elise and we had a dang good time. We bought some beer from a liquor store and sat in a dark back corner and talked (so we didn't get caught public drinking again).

After we were finished, we went to a Palestinian bar called "Radio" and had another drink. Apparently Yusuf was super hung over the next morning...I didn't think it was too bad. We met a really nice girl there who talked about her experience in Palestine and we just talked about random stuff.

We left, went back to our separate hostels, and called it a night around 2am. I'm always surprised (probably shouldn't be...) at how safe I feel in Ramallah at night. Palestine is incredibly safe (or at least there's the illusion that it is).