Friday, October 12, 2012

Life in the steppes

Mongolia is well known for its remoteness. In fact, watching the never-ending steppes through the window leaves us a feeling of humbleness and respect for what we are seeing. This feeling was not completely new to me; in Patagonia the landscape is somehow similar and also very impressive. But there is something about Mongolia. Maybe the fact that I knew that this is the less densely populated country in the World; maybe witnessing how far away from everything the nomads lived in the past centuries, and continue to do so nowadays.
Fortunally, we could witness how these families still live nowadays. Yes, it was a turistic thing to do, but this particular family only receives 3 tours per year, which I guess allows them to maintain their own way of living.

On the way to the Ger family

The roads were curvy, bumpy and, sometimes, almost non existent (this was a good part)
Even in the middle of nowhere you can find prohibition signs!
On the way there (more than two hours) we saw a lot of animals but the ones I appreciated the most were the horses. The ones we saw up close were domesticated but it was great to see them running freely around.

But at some point we stopped because someone had spotted some of the wild horses (the Przewalski). All geared up (it was cold and windy) we walked up and down, up and down the hill to see them. There was also a group of deers that could be heard from a long distance, they were incredily loud! And it was this group that we saw first. A huge number of deers, that were running up hill (a little after that they went out of sight). Despite the distance, that was very big, it was amazing to see them and we could even witness a fight between two males. Amazing!! :)
The Przewalsi were a bit more shy and only after a while we could localized them. However, at the naked eye, they were little more than moving points on the hill.

Trying to see the Prewalski and the deers behing multiple layers of protection
The hill where the deers were. The wild horses were a bit more to the left.
After the stop, time to go back and finish our trip to the ger family. In the way we made our bus (there were two) the party bus by singing/shouting and dancing crazily to the sound of musics like Gangnam Style... This is what sleep deprived people do!! (I will upload the video as soon as I get it).

Finally, the Gers... 
A set of 4 "tents" and a common toilet 100m away from everything. Another one that basically consisted of nothing else but a whole on the ground with some kind of box on top of it. The particularity of this one is that there was no light so, in case you felt the call of nature after the sunset, as it happened to me, you had to take some light with you. Up until this day I still don't know how they do to bathe themselves.
But all of this was fine. It was part of the adventure and I was prepared for that. What I was not counting on was the freezing part. All gers are warmed by a stove in their middle. It gets pretty warm and in the one where we got together and ate the temperature was really nice (around 20ºC when outside was getting closer to 0ºC). The problem was that the ger where we slept was only warmed up little before we laid down. So, after a couple of hours of sleep, the heat from the short fire was gone and we all woke up shivering, even with the 5ºC sleeping bags (well, I heard some people snore, so I guess a few of us were able to sleep). And the shivering continued all night long. I added an extra layer of clothes but it only helped for half an hour or so... it was tough... Now in a distance I am able to call it an adventure and one more story to tell, but in that moment, I remember I cursed myself and wished to be back on my own bed. 
And this was only the beginning on the Autumn... Life is not easy around here...

Arriving to the ger (check the solar panel on the left)

This is the stove (the fuel is dried dung)

The main way of transportation are horses which they use quite often

And there he went...

There was a small creek near the camp (maybe the answer to my bathing question?)

The smoke comes from the "communal" ger that, in this moment, was also the cooking ger
And I can say that, all in all, we all loved the experience! So different from what we know and, somehow, so fulfilling.

I had tried archery before, but this was way more difficult... And I was not very good at it!

The landscape inspired the explorer side of Nuno

It was the horse that appeared beneath Isa, it was not her fault (private joke, people, sorry for that :p)

No comments:

Post a Comment