I am standing in the middle of a desert barren of plant life except for a solitary mesquite tree. This 400-year-old tree flourishes despite the lack of a water source, and the mystery behind its survival draws thousands of visitors each year. From afar the tree is merely a small speck of green amidst miles of sand, and could easily be mistaken for a mirage.
The tree grows in the southern half of an island nation that is supported by oil production. It is about 1.2 kilometers from the highest point in the country, which earned the [translated] title "Mountain of Smoke" from the dark haze that surrounds the peak on humid days. Pipelines snake alongside the lonely desert road leading to the tree, and the country's first oil well, discovered in 1931, is also about a kilometer away from the site.
Many archaeologists and scholars believe that the country the tree stands in is the actual location of the Garden of Eden. The tree's relationship to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve only adds to its wonder, and local rumor claims that an angel with a flaming sword can sometimes be seen standing guard beneath its branches. Religion and legends aside, this tree is a constant reminder of the hardships of desert life and the magic of survival.
Do you know where I am?
Photo by Adlin Hisyamuddin
This contest ended February 28, 2008.
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