Of all the tourist attractions I visited on my trip, the Dead Sea was probably the coolest. I was able to visit it twice. The first was an experience I will likely never have again.
Near the beginning of my ten-day stint in Ramallah some people I had met decided to go as a group to the sea, but all of them bailed except for one. This fellow was an interesting guy, a journalist who made films and reported for a number of well-known networks. He also happened to be gay. I mention this only because you don’t meet too many Palestinians who are out, but he came from a comparatively progressive family.
We arrived at an entrance to the sea and noticed that there were a number of buses unloading passengers. It turns out that a group of Orthodox Jews, more specifically settlers that occupy Palestinian land, had decided to make this their beach day. So there I was bathing in the Dead Sea, an amazing experience in and of itself, floating next to my gay Palestinian friend and surrounded by maybe 150-200 settlers. Luckily, he spoke perfect English and could pretend to be American, for if they had found out he was Palestinian or gay, let alone both, it would have been an awkward situation… to say the least.
My second visit was a semi-spontaneous midnight excursion with some of the expats in Ramallah, with a mini-jam session thrown in. We were almost the only people on the shore, making the experience that much more enjoyable.