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They thought we were slightly nuts.

Six of us, all students at the University of Adelaide — three Americans (Jonny, Kate, and myself) one Brit (Carrie-Ann), one Canadian (Taylor), and one Aussie (Jakob) who had made the trip before — were making a five day round-trip from Adelaide, north through 1500 kilometers of empty desert, in the middle of the Australian summer, without air-conditioning.  We were headed to Uluru, the giant red monolith also known as Ayers Rock, sacred to Aboriginal tribes and as much an Australian icon as the kangaroo.

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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.    

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