BR-1138: Brain picking engineers and the Dead Sea

A Chronicle of touring Israel with a Taglit-Birthright group: The first day

On the morning of the first day of our trip, when we, the Israelis were getting on the bus and joining the American group for the first time, I was actually the last of the Israelis to get on the bus. As such, it seemed to me when I was getting up, that there were not many available seats on the bus, therefore, I chose not to venture deep into the bus, but instead sit at the first available seat I could find.

In the seat next to me there sat a guy with body proportions that seemed very similar to mine, a blue shirt and a goatee. That guy was Kevin.

I don’t know what was it about Kevin’s looks that convinced me immediately that we may share a similar social and economical status as well as a similar disposition towards certain things, but in retrospect it seems that assumption was largely right.

Kevin is a Mechanical Engineer. As an anecdote, later on whenever I’d tell one of the group members that I’m a Computer Engineer, they’d jump up and say they’ve got an engineer in the group and point at Kevin. Let me tell you something guys, professionally speaking, Computer Engineers and Mechanical Engineers have absolutely nothing in common other then both being called “Engineers”…

Having exchanged basic pleasantries with me, Kevin immediately began bombarding me with a series of questions going from simple basic ones about my occupation and accommodation going thorough questions about my working and living conditions and all the way up to deep questions about my beliefs and life philosophy.

The questions didn`t escape the notice of the people who were sitting immediately before and behind us (Sorry guys, I can’t seem to recall who you were, you were all new to me at the time and I’m still having trouble remembering some of the names…), who occasionally contributed some questions of their own and sometimes cried in dismay for fear I may be offended by some of the questions or find them difficult to answer.

As for me, I think I was quite naturally gratified as one would be when engaging upon a conversation concentrated completely upon oneself…

Somewhere along the way, we made a stop in order to attend the restrooms and buy some refreshments, as I got off the bus to stretch my legs a little, many of the group members took the opportunity to approach me and introduce themselves. For me, at least, that seems to be a very friendly and welcoming gesture. Guys in my eyes you are great, I can’t stress that enough.

Another thing I noticed during that brief break, is that some of the group members took the time to play a quick game of Friesbee, that, as I would later find out, would be a reoccurring phenomena…

A few bus-riding minutes and Kevin questions later, we arrived at our destination which was a resort laying on the beach of the dead sea. Before letting us off the bus, our guide, Raz, took the time to inform us as to what one can expect when going into the dead sea (The water is very very salty, feels oily and you float), as well as warn us that if we have any skin cuts or get any water in our eyes it’s gonna burn. badly.

Raz also told us that our time is rather limited, we were given about 75 minutes, to change, enjoy the sea and the beach, take a shower and eat lunch. Limited organization time, other group members informed me, is another reoccurring phenomena during this trip…

Going in to the beach resort`s main building we were given lunch coupons and informed that the girls` dressing rooms were to the left and the boys` to the right, going into the  dressing room, I discovered that rather then the expected benches, showers and  lockers, it actually contained only plastic chairs and a small stage. “Well”, I thought to myself as I was changing, “better then having no dressing room at all”. I do hope the girls had better conditions.

I am not, never been and will probably never will be a good swimmer, as these things go, when ever I go down to the beach with a group of people, I get into the water only to watch everyone swim off into the deep water and then, being uncertain of my ability to do so as well, turn around and head back to the beach.

Getting to the beach, I saw many of the group members already quite far off shore, and was sure this is gonna be another one of those times, but the dead sea had a surprise for me. I took my time getting into the water, getting used to the temperature, but when I finally tried to submerge my body, I found out that in the dead sea, it is actually harder to keep your body in the water then out of them. Some thrashing and swimming later and I was with the rest of the group, secure in my understanding that in the dead sea, you can just lay back and leave the floating part to the sea’s weird chemistry.

I was a little careless when swimming back to the shore, and got some water in my eyes, and boy did that burn! I had to make my way to the beach and find some fresh water with my eyes closed and tears running down my cheeks.

When I was done washing my eyes and could open them, I noticed there was quite a ruckus where we sat on the beach, getting near, I saw that Raz brought a bucket of Dead Sea mud (Which is considered to be quite good when applied to the skin) and everyone was cheerfully rubbing it on one another. At first I wanted non of it but seeing as the girls asked so nicely…

Having done experiencing every possible aspect of the Dead Sea, I was ready to hit the shower and have my lunch. Looking for the shower, I quickly found out the entire resort only had three tiny showers with similarly tiny adjoined dressing rooms. Here we were, a group of forty or so young people, with only three showers and limited time, therefore, a lot of cheering and cooing could be heard as some of the girls wend into the showers in pairs…

Compared to the beach, the lunch was rather uneventful, the food as well as the company were quite good.

When I was talking to Kevin in the morning, he explained to me that he actually wanted to ask his question to each and every one of the Israelies, so he can somewhat compare our answers, getting back on the bus, I decided to let him do so as well as allow myself to get to know different people, by sitting at a different part of the bus.

As it turned out, I found myself sitting in the center of a semi circle of lovely girls, with Debby sitting right next to me, Karen and Jen behind me. Unfortunately, I am currently unable to remember who were the girls in the seat right in front. Thereafter, rapid questioning of somewhat different kind ensued…

…to be continued…


3 thoughts on “BR-1138: Brain picking engineers and the Dead Sea

  1. I had a similar experience in the dead sea as far as getting it in my eyes… On three separate occations… And in my nose. The nose was the most interesting.

    I’m not sure if you’re familiar with “chinese hot yellow mustard”, but if you are, then you might know the feeling when you eat way too much hot mustard at one time. Immediately clears out the sinus cavity and leaves a nice burning sensation. It’s so consistent that the food affects the nose more than the tongue and throat.

    So, if you want to know what dead sea water in your nose feels like, eat a teaspoonful or so of hot mustard.

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