I love Jordan. Every day I have a moment where I feel this absolute peace and think “I am in the right place”. Every single day since I moved here, 5 months ago.
That being said, one of the most frustrating things about Jordan is the fact that almost everything is privatized. You want to go to the Dead Sea for a day? The first thing people think of is “which hotel will I go to for day access?” Call me crazy, but I find paying a minimum of $50 for day access to a beach absurd. I also don’t want to spend a day floating in the Dead Sea and looking at a half dozen hotels and a lot of people.
Okay, the public beach then. Well, entry to Amman Beach is $28 per person. What about a free beach? Not only have I been told that the free beach is filthy, but I’m also not entirely comfortable, as a female, being in a swimming costume on the public beaches here. And again, I don’t necessarily want to be around people at all.
A few weeks ago, I discovered a beautiful little hotel further south of all the resorts called Mujib Chalets. The rooms are simple, there’s a rocky little beach, and the view is only of the cliffs and the sea itself. It is beautiful. So on Friday my boyfriend and I drove down there, only to be told that they no longer allow day access as they had problems with people harassing foreigners and leaving trash strewn everywhere. We were also told that as an unmarried mix-race couple (one Jordanian, one foreigner), we would not be allowed to stay in the same room!
I was certain there was somewhere else we could swim. All my friends kept telling me that accessing the beach through hotels and paid beaches was “for your own safety” or for the amenities (showers, mud). I insisted that we buy 9 liters of bottled water and told my boyfriend to keep driving further and further south. I was sure we would find something.
And find something we did! What a jewel we stumbled upon! From the road we saw a series of little coves in the Dead Sea with only 4 or 5 people swimming below. If there are people, there must be a path of access! I was elated and we stopped at a very conveniently located parking lot to scramble down the muddy banks to the sea. We chose an empty cove for ourselves and marveled at the crystal-clear water and the intense turquoise of the shallows. Although the white salt bank was not the most comfortable, it was so incredibly beautiful it was worth all the pain it inflicted on our feet.
The salt is as sharp as it looks, and we scrambled uncomfortably over it for a swim. Once in the water though, everything was perfect. We floated together for an hour looking out onto nothing and only seeing people in the distance. My boyfriend lamented about the lack of mud, but when we emerged from the water we noticed that some of the ground under the salt felt soft. We dug under a little and realised that if we pried some of the salt off the ground there was a wealth of mud underneath.
There you have it! The full Dead Sea experience for the cost of 9 liters of water that we used to drink and wash ourselves off. This has affirmed my belief that exploring Jordan off the beaten track is possible!