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The sand stretched for miles, broken occasionally by a stony outcrop. The monotony was wearing, and the longer we traveled, the more I feared we would never escape it.

Suddenly, my guide pointed, and I caught sight of two distant pillars. As we rode toward them, a statue of a man became visible. Despite his stern countenance—and the fact that he held the head of some vanquished enemy—I have never seen so welcoming a face.

The oasis itself lies within a canyon. From a distance, one might see only more desert. The rocky hills surrounding it look the same as any other rocky hills. Were it not for the pillars and man, the place would not appear remarkable at all. When I expressed these thoughts to my guide, she laughed and said she could find the spot even without them. I conceded the point, not wishing to insult her skill. Still, I am grateful to the bygone sculptor who placed his statue here.

—Excerpt from the journal of Henri Ducette, Envers Mining Company representative and amateur historian