COMPETITION: LITERALLY LOST 73
Sunday 18 April 1999
any years ago my father had bought a vast tract of land on the edge of the ****** Desert. For 50 years no one had made any effort to develop it and those broad acres were left there, lying parched and unwanted in the desert sun. There my mother went at the age of 80. The only people who seemed willing to accompany here were displaced persons; there was a German geologist who had been interned during the war; a delicate Bavarian missionary whom she made her secretary; and an Italian carpenter and mason, an ex-prisoner of war, who became her foreman.
One hundred miles from the nearest village they pitched their tents and started looking for water, without which no permanent settlement was possible. At first they hired from private contractors the machines to drill for the water. The German geologist's knowledge of his science and my mother's intuitive assessment between them determined where the drilling should take place. The first contractor drilled down to 150 feet, struck iron stone - or so he said - and refused to continue. There was a terrible scene out there in the desert between the determined old lady who refused to change the site of the contractor's task, for she was convinced that water was there and the cynical technician whose profits, if any, decreased the deeper he drilled. In the end the contractor departed.
A second contractor, drilling a few feet away from the first hole, after going down 147 feet, lost all his tackle in the shaft and moved away in disgust. A third contractor, drilling still in the same narrow area, found after 153ft feet that he had sunk his shaft at an angle, and could not continue. He too went, bitter and deeply out of pocket. By this time no new contractor could be tempted to try his fortunes at this notorious site. There was nothing for it but for my mother to buy her own drilling machine. The aged geologist was apprenticed for some months to one of the few remaining un-estranged drilling contractors in the area, in order to acquire this new craft.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
BA vs Virgin Atlantic: Who has the best premium economy?
Warnings stepped up for travellers to Israel and Thailand
The 10 Best hiking boots
Gatwick’s biggest airline, easyJet, calls for new runway at Heathrow
Peru's 'second Machu Picchu', Italy by train, and the original Hogwarts Express - Travel agenda
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...
£21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...
£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...