Thursday, July 28, 2011

Shepards on Wheels

In a land of nomads, we too have got into the habbit.
I write to you from Khovsgol lake at the northern part of the middle of Mongolia, from a city called Hatgal. With the rest laying in front of me, I can reflect on the adventure that has been the last three weeks of July 2011 of my life.
Being in Mongolia is like seeing what the rest of the world was like before electricity roads or plumbing. Before banks, bilboards, fashion, social classes, greed, personal property, personal space, and privacy.
The only things that have seemed to change here is that the shepards guide their animals with motorcycles - as the title suggests. But even that is not the majority. It is funny to see however since the shepards are only between 5 and 11 years old... even the ones riding the wheels. The youngest we've seen looked like he was about 5, and since Mongolians tend to look older than they really are, in reality he was probably still a few months old :P
So back to the nomad life style.
As I have already written, we have become really good at packing up our tent in the mornings (down to about a minute now) and laying it back out in the evenings. The landscape is not spectacular, I wont lie. We are a bit disappointed. But I mean I am a little spoiled having seen the Grand Canyon, Niagra Falls, and the Alps in Austria. Nothing here can visually stimulate my soul or appetite, however the culture and experience sure has given me something to remember for a long time.
We already see a lot of ground being laid for roads to be built, so this rough untouched feeling wont last long.
The people have no own land, nor property, nor space. You move where you want, and when you like a place, you just set up your Ger there and that becomes your home until you want to go somewhere else. When a person is hungry on the road, as we have been, you just enter one of these gers (without knocking) and sit down. You of course say hello and ask how the family is doing. The next step is that this family feeds you and if needed offers you a place to sleep (which we have needed and accepted). This goes on the general Mongolian principal of "whats yours is mine". This of course may be the reason our driver takes our vodka and food whenever he wants.
It would be fair however to mention how he also was the reason we ate one of the weirest things of our lives. He stopped by a ger to ask for the way and came out with a burnt animal which was whole except for the head missing. After eating it, we found out it was a Marmot. Look it up in google, i have no idea what the hell it is- kind of like a beaver I guess. Well this thing gets prepared by removing its head, sticking your hand through its neck hole, and removing all the meat and bones carefully so as not to rip the skip or open the neck hole more. Then it is seasoned and stuffed back inside with scorching hot river stones. This way it gets cooked from the inside keeping all its juicy stuff - wait for the pictures, youre going to love it!

The days are hot, and the nights are cold. Emir is quiet creative with our food. We only have rice, potatoes, flour and oil. Sometimes we pick up jam or sardines. But even with that he managed to make me fries one night :D

We also did a 3 day horse riding tour (maybe I already wrote about it). Our asses hurt, and the animals are not very trained. 9 months out of the year they spend alone in the mountains so they dont respond to commands, more their own. But it was a pleasure to be out in the mountains and lakes with these Mongolian horses.

The people we meet outside the capital are quiet friendly, and are very curious. They stare without shame. the children screem "hello" about 50 times and giggle. Its very amuzing.

I will stop now since its already too long, but wait for the pics in the next blog, this cafe doesnt allow pic uploads :(

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