For more than three years I have struggled to find it. I am crossing the world on foot. I am retracing the vanished trails of the first human beings who explored the planet in the Stone Age. At my journey’s starting line in Ethiopia, I walked from camel watering hole to muddy salt seep. I have plodded from oasis to oasis in the Hejaz desert of Arabia. In the winter peaks of the Caucasus, I have grown thirsty surrounded by tons of water—the vital liquid frozen to rock-hard ice.
But never before have I encountered this: Someone has dug up and looted my resupply cache. A shallow pit that once held 15 precious gallons of water. My water. I cannot tear my eyes from the emptied jugs, rocking gently in a scorching wind.
Jinn have stolen my water in the Qizilqum.