Friday, May 26, 2006

First Day Travel Report

Does anyone ever have uneventful travel? I can't remember the last time that I did.
This one wasn't so much eventful, but a bus I boarded at 3:00 pm only arrived at
our Dead Sea hotel at 5:30pm. In that time I could have driven to the airport and
flown to Turkey. Instead we managed a late start, bad traffic, wrong turns, etc.

And hot. Jerusalem only gets this hot for a few days here and there in the
middle of August. It was "wafting from the oven" hot way past nightfall here,
and it's only May.

The hotel is nice, and dinner was yummy. I am on vacation with two hundred
other people, but I barely know any of them. I only started working
at the company a few months ago, and I mostly work with the two other technical
writers and my direct manager, none of whom came.

The Dead Sea is a unique place, as I'm sure many of you know. It is the lowest land
spot on the Earth, at 400 m below sea level. The sea itself is close to
400 m deep. The water in the Dead Sea is far more salty and mineral rich than
any other body of water. You literally cannot sink in it. If you float in it,
the majority of your body is out of the water.

Another effect of being 400 m below sea level is that you have 400 more meters
of atmosphere over you. That means slightly more pressure, and almost complete
protection from ultraviolet rays (it takes a whole lot longer to get sunburnt).
If you wander around the area, as we did today, you see mountains of glistening
salt crystals. There is a rich history of who controlled and exported this
salt and such facts, which you can look up on your own. Nowadays, the hotels
offer a variety of expensive mud baths and massages, and these muds and
beauty products are exported around the world.

Last night I managed to convince a bored couple, my manager's manager or
something like that and his wife, to join us for a game. I brought two light
games: For Sale and Apples to Apples, and two heavy games: Puerto Rico and
Caylus, but I neglected to bring any middle games, like Settlers or Taj
Mahal. My mistake.

They were happy to try For Sale. She was tired and took a little while to understand what
was going on "But on what am I bidding?" while he took to it like the computer
professional that he is, trying to calculate who will get what if he bid or didn't bid.

He won the first game with 66 points, while I came in a pathetic last at 44. I
suggested another game now that they knew what they were doing and he was quite
happy to try again. This time I squeaked out a close victory with 62 points to
his 59.

He wrote down the name of the game, and I said that I could provide him with a
list of other good games. I also told him about Boardgamegeek. He is looking
forward to trying another game today or tomorrow. Yay me!

If only I had brought Taj Mahal or some equivalent. Dare I try them on Puerto
Rico? Or even Caylus?

Well, we can always play team Hearts.


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