Pete Found his Happy Place

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Words by Dalene Heck / Photos by Pete Heck”

“I can’t float.”

“What do you mean you can’t float?” I asked accusingly, not believing it possible, and also not believing that after ten years of marriage there was anything unknown left between us.

“I can’t,” Pete restated, “I’ve never been able to.”

Super man pose

He tells me this after we had finished playing in the Dead Sea. With salinity levels higher than 33%, it is impossible not to float. We tried all kinds of tricks: superman poses, consecutive full-body rolls across the surface, taking our plastic shoes on and off while “sitting”. What was not possible in a regular body of water was easily done there, and we splashed around like ridiculous kids for well over an hour.

Dead Sea floating

We were ridiculous kids who were also ridiculously good looking when covered in therapeutic Dead Sea mud.

Dead Sea mud - Dalene

Dead Sea mud - Pete

Like the old ridiculous kids we are, we then retreated to the more relaxed poolside and traded umbrella shade for cool water every half hour or so. One of my personal favorite things to do in any pool is just let go and float on my back, feeling totally weightless in a state of complete relaxation while the sun continues to warm my face.

This little piece of heaven is something Pete had never known before that day at the Dead Sea, much to my surprise.

I was determined to change that for him.

We tried different techniques. He arched his back, stretched out so that the top of his head was fully submerged. I held him up with my hand in the small of his back before easing off my assistance.

He immediately floundered. He was obviously holding tension in his back and thighs, and was unable to let his body go completely limp. No matter how hard he tried, no matter how many times I told him to relax, he just couldn’t do it.

What was meant to be a soothing day at the sea turned into a frustrating stalemate. He refused to believe that floating is a scientific certainty, and I couldn’t convince him otherwise.

View of Dead Sea
Pouting on the other side of the pool.

But I didn’t need to, at least on that day. Because he had another option.

Unlike any other spot on earth (and at the lowest point on earth – the Dead Sea is 400m below sea level), he had a place where he could float with reckless abandon. And thus he packed up his towel and shoes to venture back down to the bottom of the hill, and enjoy the the time he had left in his new happy place.

Pete's Happy Place

Our visit to the Dead Sea was arranged by Visit Jordan. As always, the opinions we express, and the embarrassing stories we tell about ourselves, are our own.

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  1. So are you telling me that Pete could NOT float in the Dead Sea??? How bizarre – that’s impossible!

    What’s he got – iron bricks in his butt?

    Inquiring minds want to know… ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. Sorry, no. I just reread it all and it’s still unclear to me. In the end, you say “…he had a place where he could float with reckless abandon. And thus he packed up…” but in the picture he’s sitting on dry land, so I just thought you meant he… ended up just “floating” in his dreams.

        No doubt this is gonna turn out to be one of my blonde comment moments, but it just doesn’t seem clear to me (um, maybe one of those 4th of July sparklers fried my brain…)

  2. LOVED this post! We had just a short amount of time at the Dead Sea and neither of us covered ourselves in mud. We of course regret that now! But I brought home Dead Sea mud with me and one of these days I am going to slather it on at the beach. I’m sure that should get a look or two…

    1. Our skin was super soft after the mud and sea treatment. Enjoy when you get around to trying it out ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I had to laugh at this post with Pete not ‘being able to float’. We had an Aussie guy on our Africa overland trip who embarrassingly admitted that even his swim coach in high school had given up on him not being able to float. So every time we were near the sea or in a pool, a group of us tried to hold him up and teach him – what a disaster! Though I’m happy to say that by the end, he could float! Even only for a few seconds haha.
    I can see where Pete is coming from; poor guy ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I can float for about 2 seconds too and then I sink. Don’t believe the hype that everyone can float. Science, Schmience.

      1. I agree! I have only ever been able to float for about two seconds, then I sink like a rock, regardless of relaxed or not.
        Archimedes principle only holds true if the density of the object is the same as water… and while people are close (80% water), we have these annoying bones and heavy organs that weight us down…
        so I don’t think science guarantees that all people can float. If so, I’ve proved science wrong. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I can’t float either – completely unable to relax no matter what! I may need a trip to the Dead Sea too so that I can know how it feels!

  5. The Dead Sea is a blast! I floated in it on the Israel side and was amazed at how little I could move in the water. At one point I tilted my head back to get my hair completely wet, and when I tried to lift my head back up, I could barely move it! It made me panic a little bit. I just kept on pulling and pulling to get my hair out of the water and finally I succeeded. I think the minerals in the water are so heavy that they weighed my hair down. Very strange feeling, but I’ll be doing it again some day ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. It was a blast, weird about the minerals weighing your hair down, hadn’t heard that before, but I can believe it.

  6. Tony is the exact same way – he’s never been able to float! Even when we were in Puerto Rico a few years back and went into a mangrove cove where the salinity was extra high, he still barely floated without the aid of his lifejacket. I am determined for us to make it to the Dead Sea just so that he can finally see what floating is really like!

  7. Sandi was amazed in Honduras to see you floating Dalene. I can’t float either so I think you’re lucky to be able to do that.

    You 2 do look cute with mud smeared all over.

    1. Dalene likes to show off her floating skills. I’m unsure how cute I look, but you are certainly right about Dade.

  8. It’s funny – I know a lot of guys who claim they can’t float. Glad Pete finally got to do it in the Dead Sea! I’m sure the sensation of floating without even trying is very cool!

    1. I was scared I would sink, seriously. I thought if I can’t float in here, there was something seriously wrong with me. Thankfully, all went well.

    1. Cheers Will, I was always one who loved playing in the mud, and I was more than excited when the hotel encouraged it.

  9. You spent an hour floating in the Dead Sea? WOW. I could barely manage a few minutes. I had cuts on my body and that water made them feel like they were on fire! I would love to go back and try again. Glad you two got to experience something so wonderful!

    1. Thankfully someone told me the day before not to shave on the day of. Yeah we had no problems whatsoever. I can’t imagine going in there with cuts, i’m cringing as I type this…

  10. I’d love to see this someday, but I’m sure a few minutes would be sufficient. I’m not a fan of saltwater in a normal ocean, so the Dead Sea sounds over the top. But it definitely sounds like an awesome experience!

    1. I completely understand as I’m not a big saltwater fan either. But this was definitely therapeutic and my skin was thanking me for days afterwards.

  11. It’s nice living through you guys. All these things I want to do, you pop ahead and do them for me. Love it! Delighted to hear Pete found his happy place.. and somewhere to float! Will these skills be applied to other bodies of water though…?

    1. Only applies to bodies of water with salt content around 30%, otherwise back to sinking… ๐Ÿ˜‰ Cheers Laurence!

  12. Ohhhh! That looks fun! I’ve got a large body of salty water here in the Dominican Republic but nothing with such buoyancy!

    1. It was so much fun. Dalene even at one point suggested we try dropping the camera and seeing if it floats. Thankfully, common sense kicked in and we still have the camera.

  13. Hey! I’m from Chile and I just love your website, travel around the world.. well, it’s my dream since forever!
    Anyway, I just love the pictures and I needed to tell you guys how cool you are!
    I will keep seeing the lovely and wonderful photos you post, I’m truly amazed by all the places you have seen!
    You rock, seriously.
    Come back soon to my beautiful country! x

    1. Thank you so much for your kind compliment. We love receiving compliments such as this one. We loved our time in Chile and can’t wait to get back and explore more. Where in Chile are you from?

      1. I lived in Osorno my whole life. It’s about three hours from Chiloรฉ (The Island), in southern Chile. I moved to Valparaรญso in March, because I started college this year! It was a big change but it has been alright, Valparaรญso is a very charming city. Both cities are incredibly beautiful anyway.

  14. Hi Pete. My name is Randy and I can’t float either; though, my significant other, like yours, can float like no other. It’s fantastic to learn that there are others out there who also suffer from FD (floating dysfunction).

  15. Aww, poor Pete! I’m glad you got to join us floaters for a bit ๐Ÿ™‚ Although in fairness, I haven’t tried floating in a long time…I might have gone over to your team since I last did it.

  16. I float-ish. I stay up in the water if I can keep moving even just a little bit, but just to relax and I go down. The dead sea sounds pretty awesome though.
    Good tip about not shaving. I would not have thought about that. I am clumsy enought o end up with little cuts on my body anyway, so we’ll see. I would like to see it someday.

  17. Floating in the Dead Sea is one of those cool travel experiences I’ll never forget. I was surprised at how oily the water felt.

    This is one of those thing I get asked about constantly… every time I mention I’ve been to Israel, it seems to be the second question I get (next to ‘Did you feel safe?)

  18. Pete is not entirely alone. I can float, but not well by any means. I love the water but I always end up under it more than I’d like.

    I so long to flat in the Dead Sea too!

  19. So absurd that Pete couldn’t relax and float in the Dead Sea – I figured it was impossible NOT to float! : ) I spent a day there (on the Israeli side) during a Birth Right trip to Israel and was absolutely fascinated by how the salty water held your body up!

  20. We haven’t visited the Dead Sea, but we did float in the Salt Lake in Utah and it was awesome!! It’s like you couldn’t drown!

    Also, this is totally random Dalene, but do you have clear shoes on in that photo of you floating? I can’t for the life of me figure out what’s around your toes.

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