I can almost not believe that I have only been here for 3 full days. It seems as if I had been here for several weeks already. So much seems to happen in one day here, and yet the pace of everyday life is truly slow.
Yesterday was Sunday, and weekends are usually busy here, with crowds of people coming from UB for horseback riding. But around lunch time everyone left and the camp almost felt deserted.
Except for the horseman Pujee and his wife Gaana, only the kids, 15 year old Anaar and I remained in the camp, and our only tourist was Josh, a spiritual Aussie, who is searching for the meaning of life. The kids are usually extremely brave, riding and taming horses, but they did not want to sleep all by themselves in the large ger and asked me to sleep there with them – all lined up along one side of the large ger, feet towards the door. The wind has been extremely strong since yesterday, much more than usual and the whole ger seems to shake, the door bangs and the cover on the roof smashes in the wind. Sand is all over the place and creeps into the ger. My whole stuff, including me is covered by black sand. And it is dry, so dry that I need cream in my face and on my hands several times a day.
This morning Anaar made breakfast, but was helped by Gaana, who knows exactly how much yeast, flower and water is needed for the fried Mongolian bread. Once the dough was ready, we cut it into small pieces and rolled them out into small circles, fried them in oil, and ate them with Nutella. Delicious!! At least here I can indulge in some sweet stuff, and won’t put on weight.
Two Swiss girls came into the camp before lunch for a riding tour, and three new Mongolian guides arrived, while one of the girls, who had been here for some time, left for UB. We went on a long riding tour with the Swiss girls. Since both of them were familiar with horses, it meant a lot of trotting and galloping. My horse (I had asked for a slow one again), was really a bit slow to start off, but became much more alert after some time. It is a great feeling to gallop though this vast and open landscape, with nothing but rolling hills and a few gers here and there. But the dry air, the wind and the blowing sand makes me terribly thirsty. Luckily we stopped today at a ger where we got fresh yoghurt, and since I was really dried out, I also had some water with milk (all fresh, nothing boiled – let’s hope I will survive it). I feel as if I could drink liters of water and it would still not be enough.
The new guides, who arrived to day, are eager to practice their English, and I am the obvious target. Teaching, practicing and talking English is my second task, apart from horseback riding, talking to the tourists, and washing dishes. Today I had lessons with the young kids and long conversations with the two young guides, and I showed photos of my family (too bad I only have a few on my Iphone) to all of them.
The horsemen here are fantastic riders, galloping up and down the hills, standing up in their stirrups, bending down to pick up something from the ground, or catch a horse that should not be where it is. It is a pure pleasure to watch them. And instead of taking your bike or car to your neighbor, you just take your horse.
I have been without contact with the outer world for three days now. When did this happen last? Probably six years ago, and since then I have always been connected. Push a button to send off the latest blog, check mails, send a SMS, get on Facebook to check out what other people are up to. Now I have to walk up the next hill to get a signal on my phone, and wireless – no way! Roaming – far too expensive. Moreover, since there is no electricity here, I have to be careful with my various electricity dependent tools – to charge them, they have to travel to UB over night.