I have heard (from an Afghan man that I know) that in Afghanistan, they will construct kites, and then tie or tape pieces of glass and shards of pottery to the kite-strings and have "kite-battles", where they try to use the sharp shards on their kite-strings to cut the opponent's strings.
The desert is a curse from the Water God upon the wicked people who live in the South.
Said people offended the Water God in some way, and so the Water God placed water-trappers, bizarre, water-sucking beings, in the soil, and within years, the wilderness became a desert.
Thus, the desert folk shamans have special powers that allow them to find water-trappers so that they can be dug up and their water harvested.
Could come across a band of refugees. Could have been thrown out of their town by a tyrant taking of their land, bought out by somebody unexpectedly, fleeing a battle they know is coming their way. Could be proof of what they are searching for, hints and tips of what is to come, or just to broaden the reality of the world.