July 4th, 2009 Page 1
The Lowest Wadi in the World: Mujib
Last Saturday, having spent three weekends in Amman, a very small group of Qasid Students decided to go to the Wadi Mujib Nature Reserve for a small hike, and then proceed to spend the rest of the day on the shores of the Dead Sea. The entrance to the reserve is actually on a peninsula that juts out into the sea, about an hour and a half out of Amman.
The drive was nice, though it lacked panache, considering that we were driving to the lowest point on Earth. Nevertheless, the scenery easily took our breath away; the rolling mountains were accented by the shade created by their various boulders whose dark shadows sharply contrasted the azul sky and white rocks. I had thought that only Caravaggio was capable of such distinctions. Clearly, nature had mastered the contrast of light and shadow long before he did.
The Dead Sea area is a place of intense juxtaposition. At the nadir of terrestrial Earth, its extreme salinity rejects all form of life—hence the name, Dead Sea. Yet, along its banks, small trees cling to the pebbly shores in close proximity to a massive body of undrinkable water. I can only assume that these sad trees subsist of some other source of water—perhaps runoff or evaporated moisture.
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Even the Wadi Mujib reserve adjacent to the Dead Sea must feel the impending doom that lies before its fresh water that rushes towards Earth’s center. Because of its location and its varying altitude, the nature reserve is home to many endangered species of plants and animals. In times gone, the Wadi Mujib River used to meander into the Dead Sea. Now, the river has been dammed and the water diverted. I can’t help but ponder the accidents of nature: such a life-filled area of the world, containing an array of different species and even rare fresh water, drastically encounters the lifeless sea. Life and Death once met at the end of this river—an unstoppable conclusion to a natural phenomenon.