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  • Writer's pictureMara Cao

iv. harsh desert mountains

We park the truck in the wash and get out. We hike up the hill, each of us carrying three or four gallon jugs of water in our backpacks. Each gallon of water weighs about 8 pounds. It is my first day in the desert and I start to feel dizzy. I am from Berkeley, CA which is at sea level. I haven’t acclimated to the higher altitude of Arizona mountains. The midday heat and dryness are brutal. I cannot bear the weight of the three water jugs I have on my back. I feel light-headed and hear ringing in my ears. I tell the group leader that I need to sit down, I need to rest. I feel like a wimp because we have only been walking for 15 minutes and I cannot do it anymore. I think of the men and women who walk for ten days in the desert, hungry and thirsty, being chased by la migra. How do they do it? The group goes on and I stay back. They say they’ll be coming back down in an hour. I lie back against the rocks and look out over the vista. The land before me is vast and barren.

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