Wading for a cure in the Dead Sea.
Born to Shop Editorial Director Sarah Lahey took off for Israel and sent back this report:
Suze – I can't believe you tumbled and broke a toe! If you were here in Israel with me, a dip in the Dead Sea could make it all better. At least that's what I was told by the folks in charge at Mineral Beach.
They also claimed a mud and sea treatment could take ten years off my middle-aged face. Ha!
"Sign me up" I quipped, " I'll cancel my Botox appointment."
With a reputation for working medical miracles, the Dead Sea really isn't a sea at all; it's a big lake loaded with lotsa minerals including potassium, calcium, iron and salt; the salt content alone is more than 30%. It's rumored that the sea was a favorite of Cleopatra, who supposedly claimed it as her own personal health spa. I figured that if it worked for Cleo, who was I to refuse to soak my asp?
After paying 20 shekels, about US$5, to rent a locker (half of that was refunded when I returned the key) I made my way into the crowded changing room. The conversations I heard as I stripped and changed came from ladies who were seeking relief from psoriasis, arthritis, high blood pressure, respiratory and other chronic ailments.
Most of these gals were very, very old, and the communal locker room was very very small; it made Loehmann's look like a five-star spa. One lady warned me not to drink the sea water, as my blood and potassium levels would go berserk and I could go into shock and die within a few minutes. No problem, ma'am.
It was a quick walk down the path to the water. I threw my towel on a chair and slowly waded into the sea. The bottom was rough with sharp shells and rocks, so I immediately lifted my feet, stretched out, laid back and uh, floated. It was a strange feeling, sort of like being on an air mattress, only there was no mattress, just me and the sea!
Sarah Lahey in the Dead Sea.
Half the fun was checking out my fellow floaters. Some brought props for "Kodak moments'' while others appeared to be snoozing. One couple was stretched out on the water, hand in hand, smoking cigarettes; one man was snoring, I think. Unless he was one of the respiratory ailment surfer sufferers… It was quite a scene, and a sedate one. Splashing in the Dead Sea is considered bad behavior.
I'd been warned to stay in the water only 20 minutes, but after about five, I was ready to move on to the next ritual. It was time for mud.
I stood up, reached down, grabbed a handful of the rich black stuff, and slathered it on my arms, legs, face… basically any place not covered by my swimsuit.
Once out of the water, I baked in the sun until crusty, giving the black goo plenty of time to work its magic. As I sat there, I remembered soaking in a mud bath in Calistoga (California) and hating every minute of being buried in mud. This was much more fun! And much less expensive!
About fifteen minutes later, it was time to rinse. The mud dissolved easily in the salt water, but I hurried back to the dreaded locker room to secure a spot in line for a proper shower.
Was this goop and grunge worth the effort? Absolutely! I don't think it erased ten years from my face, but my skin felt great for several days afterward.
Hoping to maintain my healthy glow, I made a quick stop at the Ahava factory store, just across the road from Mineral Beach. Ahava is an Israeli cosmetics company that manufactures skin-care products made from the Dead Sea's mud and mineral-based compounds. It's an internationally known brand, well distributed in the U.S. and online, but a little less $$$ in Israel, especially at the factory store.
I loaded up on skin creams, bath salts and hair products, most of which were on sale. Hopefully, Suze, these gifts will ease your toe woes. Otherwise, you'll have to come here in person, Suze in the ooze.
The Born to Shop Ladies, Suzy Gershman and Sarah Lahey, will lead their next Born to Shop tour in November. Destination: Tokyo and Kyoto. Visit Born to Shop for details.