The stars seemed to be very close. Somehow, the sky in such a remote area of the world was different than what you would see in other parts. Julia was lying down on a think towel she had purchased before the trip and she started counting the stars but she got lost and tired quickly. She hadn’t even removed her boots before lying down and now she was falling asleep, in the middle of the desert. She hadn’t prepared her tent or any food. She was much too tired after her first day.
Early next morning, she was woken up by a tickling on her stomach. Julia didn’t really open her eyes immediately. But as the tickling persisted, she decided to sit down and properly wake up. She stood up in fear once she realized the tickling came from the tough little legs of a scorpion that was parading itself all along her body. She checked herself for any stings but there was nothing. It was clear that, if the creature had stung her, she would be in severe pain.
Julia decided to spend her second day looking for a better camping spot. She walked half that day all along the desert and the small patches of life she could find, until she found a small group of thin trees. They gave some shadow from the sun, which was perfect because it had started coming out behind big clouds and it was insufferable to walk like that. She was able to put up her tent in a few minutes and get inside before the full power of the sun was displayed. Thankfully, she had bought the right tent.
She smiled at the thought of her looking around several stores until she found the right one. It was clear that many of the employees at all the stores didn’t really believe her when she stated she was going camping in the middle of the desert. She even explained to them she was studying biology and that was the perfect way to get more comfortable with future trips she might have to endure. But apparently she looked too “girly” and too “nice” to be the type of woman that goes camping.
Julia even imagined that they pictured her doing her nails inside of her tent or maybe bringing a man with her in order to repel bugs and others animals. But she couldn’t care about all of that, about what she thought they were thinking or about what they were actually thinking. She could only care about her priorities and her first one was to become the best biologist ever. She really loved the profession but had always had a certain fear and disgust towards going camping or working in the middle of a jungle or any wild place. So Julia forced herself to camp and live through it alone.
She sat down on the tent and removed her boots after almost a day of use. Of course, her feet smelled awful but it was the price to pay for such an adventure. Besides, she was certain that a source of water would be around and she would take advantage of that the moment she found it. Meanwhile, she had to conform with removing her boots and socks and giving her aching feet some air to relax. She opened her backpack, grabbed a couple of power bars and ate them in a few minutes.
Food was one of the big problems she had to face doing what she was doing. It wasn’t like she was prepared from day one to hunt and eat anything she found. Besides, she was in a desert and the amount of animals there was severely reduced. It wasn’t as if she was in the middle of a beautiful European forest where she could hunt down boars and roast them slowly over a nice fire. She couldn’t do that, so she had prepared herself with lots of cereal bars and small foods that she could move around easily.
It wasn’t the best meal ever, but at least she had fresh water, which was enough to make her feel alive once again. She lay down for a bit and realized she hadn’t really done much related to biology. The closes thing had been her encounter with the scorpion and she had run so fast after that, that she was ashamed to call herself a scientist. So after relaxing for a bit, she put on her socks and boots again and a baseball cap her dad had given her before departure.
Then, she went outside to check for animal life outside the tent. Julia found some interesting bugs near the thin trees and was able to take pictures with her cellphone. She had a better camera inside her backpack but she really didn’t want to be fixing its configuration when trying to take the picture of a small creature. She promised herself to check the camera features before going to bed. She saw some more scorpions, as well as tiny spiders that seemed to like underneath the hot desert sand.
When going back inside her tent, a powerful noise attracted her attention upwards and she realized a very rare visitor was flying over her. Before leaving her house, Julia had checked all the information she could about that part of the country, so she was well aware of the existence of such a majestic creature. It had a very large wingspan but its body was rather small. Its feathers were light yellow, in order to reflect the sun light and being able to blind its prey with them. It was such a beautiful design nature had achieved, so of course Julia took lots of pictures.
Later that day, and after eating a whole tuna can with beans, Julia uploaded the cellphone pictures onto her laptop. She had brought several spare batteries for it, but even so she decided to limit her computer time to only an hour a day. She erased the pictures that she didn’t like and was about to turn off the computer when she decided to look at some of the other pictures she had on her laptop. Family pictures, others with friends and some at college too. She was smiling in most, not in all of them.
She even laughed out loud when she realized she had a couple of pictures of her old boyfriends. She hadn’t seen any of them in a long time, as they had been only high school crushes and nothing more. Yeah, she had gone with one of them to prom and with the other one on a long summer vacation. But that was it, they were both now in the past and she had to move on. Actually, it had been partly because of them she had decided to follow her dream of becoming a biologist. They didn’t think it was a realistic dream.
After turning off the computer and putting it away, she decided to grab the camera to fix the settings before using it the next day. She had bought that second hand camera online and had never touched more than a couple of times to know it could be turned on and off. That was it. Now she had to put everything in the right setting in order to capture the perfect pictures in the scorching desert. But as she wasn’t very good with things like that, Julia soon fell asleep with the camera on her chest.
The next day, she woke up to see the camera had rolled to the side. She grabbed it to put away but then the bird with yellow feathers screamed loudly. Because this time, it did seem like a scream and not like the beautiful chant of a majestic bird. Julia stepped outside barefoot, only to see the sky was very dark and that the bird was on top of the nearby thin trees. The bird let out another “scream” and suddenly flew over Julia and away from the tree area. It seemed to be escaping something.
Only moments afterwards, the ground began shaking violently. Julia fell to her knees and saw how her tent moved around as if tossed by some invisible force. She tried t o crawl her way back inside the tent but the earthquake stopped right before she was able to get it.
Inside, all of her stuff had spilled out of the backpack. Food, the camera, phone and laptop, everything was upside down. The bird had warned her right in time. She was thankful and realized she had made the right choice by spending two weeks in that desert. She was going to make the best of it.