29 May 2011

fading places


Mostly on business trips, I get to see the inside of a hotel room and the inside of a range of factories. This last week I went to Israel, one of those places that had never been on my "must see" list, and I wasn't really looking forward to it all that much, mostly because of the high temperatures. We arrived as it got dark on Sunday evening, in the speeded up way that dusk falls in countries nearer to the equator, when I am used to the long northern European evenings. 

There were five of us travelling together, including one of my best friends, and we managed to have some time to make a couple of evening trips, firstly to Jerusalem (more of which later), and secondly to the Dead Sea. I read this weekend that unless millions of gallons of water are pumped into the sea, it will disappear in the next 50 years. We drove through hilly desert to get to the sea at Neve Zohar, the colours in the desert ranging from double cream to butterscotch, to burnt meringue... (yes, I was hungry as we drove through there)

As we got near, signs at the road's edge indicated how close we were to sea level, and then we dipped below, and still the sea lay far below that. It was striated with barriers, banks, build ups of salt and sand, looking more like the edges of Holland, where the sea is enclosed in order to drain it for land. I'm not sure why the banks are here, I assume they are emerging naturally as a result of the continual evaporation. As we got to the water we could see the salt crusts bulging out of the water, the banking process starting up in miniature. The sun was setting behind the desert hills, and opposite, the "coast" of Jordan was rinsed in an appropriately rosy light.

The salt lines meandered across the water, astonishingly turquoise where there were deeper pools. Dividing and fractal, they fingered they way under the surface, poking through in places and segregating the sea into lakes, pools. The skin of the earth pushing out the natal fluid. Grasses at the edge of the sea turn into crusty coral polyps. The landscape is fading away.

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