Sunday, February 25, 2007

Camels, Camels, and More Camels

Hi again!

I was so excited to see all of the animals on our field trip to the school and hospital. I had never seen so many camels in one day! I told Kristin that I didn't think I would see that many camels again. Guess what? I was wrong!

The day after we visited the school and hospital, Kristin got me up very early AGAIN so we could go on another field trip. This time we were going to see places where the people from Camp Lemonier have built water wells. I wasn't so sure I wanted to spend the entire day looking at water wells, but Kristin told me that I would get to see plenty of camels.

Our friend Tony took Kristin, Keith, and Malcolm to the base so we could meet several people from the 1132nd National Guard well digging unit from North Carolina. They were our guides for the day. There were so many people in the group that it took several SUV's to get us to the well sites. Keith, Kristin, Malcolm and I rode with the the leader of the group, First Sergeant William Robert Brown. He is very nice and he drove a much nicer SUV than the one we rode in yesterday!

It took almost three hours to get to the first place well in a place near Yoboki. Yesterday I saw hills and volcanic rock. Today I still saw hills and mountains, but I also saw lots and lots of sand.

We went to Yoboki because there is an oasis there. I saw an oasis in Egypt. This oasis in looks like it is in the middle of nowhere. But it does has some places where water bubbles up from the ground. We stopped at what looked like a small pond. First Sergeant Brown told Keith and Kristin they should touch the water because it was really warm. But, they had to wear a special blue glove. That's because there are germs and other bad things in the water that might make people sick. Who knew? Here I am with Kristin as she "tests" the water.

They didn't have a blue glove in my size, so I didn't test the water. But Kristin told me it was as warm as bath water or a swimming pool in the middle of summer. I am going to have to trust her on that!

Right after Kristin tested the water, we started to see people coming toward our group. Kristin told me they were nomads.

Do you see the animal skin in the photo above. Keith says it is from a cheetah! I didn't see any live cheetah's, but the skin was really cool to look at. I was hoping to see more animals and while I was waiting for Kristin to interview some people, I thought I saw lots of animals past the small pond.

I told Kristin but she looked closer and told me I was seeing something called a "mirage." She says that sometimes the heat in the desert makes it look like there is something in the distance when there really isn't anything there. That means I wasn't seeing animals after all. Don't tell Kristin, but I still think I saw animals as she took this photo.

While I waited for Keith and Kristin, a few camels did start to come out of the nearby trees (see...I knew I saw something out there!). Then it started to get very windy. The wind started swirling the sand around and then I saw something Kristin calls a "dust devil." It was really cool! It looked like the tornadoes I see on TV.

We decided to get into the SUV when more dust devils started swirling near us. First Sergeant Brown then drove us to a well built by soldiers. It wasn't working and the soldiers with us were using special equipment to mark the location of the well on a map. Kristin said they were doing this because they are coming back in a few months to fix the well.

I couldn't understand why the soldiers built a well in the middle of the desert. Kristin said the well helps clean the water so the germs won't make the people and animals near the oasis sick. I guess this makes sense. Kristin also says the well was built in this spot because it is next to an important trail. First Sergeant Brown told us that people and animals have walked on this trail for thousands of years. WOW...that is a LONG time!

The trail doesn't look all that special to me, but soon I started to see LOTS and LOTS of camels. I have never seen so many camels in my life! Kristin knows I love camels, so she took lots of photos for me.

After the soldiers finished at the well, the group decided to have lunch. Kristin had packed a few things from the cafeteria to eat. But the soldiers also had these funny looking bags with them. They are called ready-to-eat meals or MRE's. Keith says soldiers who are working away from their main camp eat MRE's. I had no idea!

The MRE was really cool! Keith's had candy, crackers, and spaghetti! The spaghetti wasn't cooked. The soldiers didn't bring a microwave with them, so I wondered how Keith was going to cook the noodles. He told me the bag was very special. He poured some water into it and then put his box of spaghetti in the special bag. The bag got very hot and a few minutes later the spaghetti was cooked. How cool is that?!

After lunch we drove to two more wells. We didn't stay at the first one very long. But the soldiers did test the water at the second well.

It looked like the well was pretty popular. Here, a woman is pouring water into a big yellow jug. One of the men pumping the water then took the jug up a nearby hill in a wheelbarrow and poured the water on a vegetable garden.

First Sergeant Brown and the rest of the soldiers drove us back to Camp Lemonier after visiting the last well. I was very hot and tired, so I feel asleep before we got back to the camp.

Until next time....