Deep down below sea level in Jordan, Bernard O’Shea lets his torso be pounded by nature’s hot and cold springs and finds the effect oddly arousing.
The weirdest, most sensuous waterfall you’ll ever shower under – and, please, don’t ever stand under big ones, stick to waterfalls that will blow you away mentally but not physically – is to be found 260 metres below sea level.
You don’t have to go down in a submarine to get there, though. It is in Hammamat Ma’in in Jordan, where hot freshwater springs pour out the hillsides, forming natural pools and creeks that feed the Dead Sea.
Normally the temperature of the water at Hammamat Ma’in ranges from 45C (bearable) to 60C (pretty hot!), but at certain times of the year – depending on the rains – cold water streams join in. Hot and cold water jets spurt out simultaneously, producing the oddest sensation for anyone bathing underneath – a bit like doing both an ice bucket challenge and a steaming bucket challenge simultaneously. But once you get used to having your body pounded by droplets of varying temperatures, it is a wonderfully soothing sensation – and if I could manipulate my shower head at home to produce a similar effect, I would do so.
The particular waterfall that I was standing under was part of the Six Senses Spa complex at the Evason Ma’in Hot Springs resort, but it is just one of many in this particular oasis. There are others up at the hotel’s private pool area, and more at a public pool nearby.
I am not normally one for splashing out on pampering massages and spa treatments – my idea of looking after my body is to feed it a hot dog or a hamburger – but there are certain places you come to to unwind, and this is one of them. In this part of the world the air is clear and fresh and has the highest level of oxygen (the nearby Dead Sea is the lowest land point on Earth, about 420m below sea level), so I decided I was going to take a time-out and breathe it all in.
I sat down cross-legged in a Buddha position underneath the cascading water, allowing it to massage my shoulders, shut my eyes, and let my mind drift off to the soothing sound of cascading water accompanied by and the late afternoon birdsong – for even though Jordan is mostly desert country, its wetlands are important stopovers on the migratory bird routes, and you can hear birds chirping everywhere. Eventually all sounds evaporated from my mind, and for the first time in my life I found myself in the zone where meditation begins.
It was heaven. TTW
Bernard O’Shea was a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board and Six Senses Spa. Photos © Bernard O’Shea.