Nyla was awed as she took in the sight of a giant palm tree several hundred yards upstream. The tree shot at least thirty feet skyward, towering over the shorter riparian vegetation around it. Thick dense fronds dripped down and brushed the sand underneath. The tree looked so out of place in the desert, but it also looked peaceful and promising and she couldn’t take her eyes off it. Moonbeams danced through the surf-board-size fronds and the gentle breeze rustled the crisp fronds, making them sing like a grass skirt going through the motions of the hula. Nyla knew this was the place¾the tropical paradise in the desert¾the best place to navigate the waters of the Rio Bravo to freedom.
I’ll never forget the first time I came upon this unique spot in Big Bend National Park. It was so wonderfully out of place that I knew it would make it into a story one day, which it did in Deadly Exodus.