Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lonely yurt

Turns out that Tumur's uncle wasn't Tumur's uncle once more, he was another cousin of his. Actually turns out Tumur's uncle is dead but he was a great man in his time.
So Tumur's cousin came for us in his truck. It was a powerful Korean truck, anything less could not ride through this terrain.

We rode away from the village through the snow. Besides me and Tumur riding in the truck, there was also a boy about twelve, appearently the cousin's son.
When we stopped, there was nothing. White snowy plane and mountains around. Wherever you look, wherever you make your mind wonder, you will find white and rocks. While it is freezing outside and anything that falls from the sky may only be snow or ice, the patch of snow remains thin under our tires. The sky is blue, where could the watercome from in this desertic mongolian steppes?

Why does this man and his family live here? You already feel lost in immensity in the closest village, why isolate yourself even more?
Turns out the cattle needs space to feed. The winter grass doesn't contain a lot of nutriments so they compensate by eating a lot. And it takes a lonely yurt in the middle of nowhere; nothing less, to take care of a whole herd. Everyday the twelve year old boy jumps on his horse and takes the herd to the good patches of grass. The grass can't be too close to the yurt otherwise they would eat everything too fast but not too far either because the physical activity needed to get there would burn out their fat and render the food intake useless.

"My cousin is a very good shepeard." says Tumur and I realize that it is not an easy job; you need a good intuition.
His cousin is taking care of a whole lot of goats, three little yaks and some sheep.
The yurt in the nothingness
It is almost hidden behind the sheep
Four people live there. Tumur's cousin, a man a bit broken down under the weight of loneliness, his wife, a happy gal who can even speak some russian, the twelve year old boy full of life and dreams but who will probably be a sheppard too and a small girl. I think the small girl is the one who illuminates the yurt most.
The smallest inhabitant of the yurt
I spend the day walking around the place, losing myself in the void. I have to be careful about how far I go and for how long I put my hands out of my gloves. If the wind is blowing, I feel my skin burn as I had put an iron on it except it is from the cold.
On the mountain, just above the yurt

I spend 31st of december in that yurt under the stars and woke up on January 1st, 2014.

"Let's see the sunrise," says Tumur.
So we decide to climb on the highest hill in the region, about 2500 meters high and see the sun rise from there. I realized throughout this small trip that this meant more to Tumur than to see a nice landscape. It has a profound meaning, a religious one. One should pray in the rising sun, it is a special moment.
That is why we rushed from one peak to another until we reached the highest mountain, the one from which we could see the landscape to all sides.

Tumur rushing towards the highest peak to see the rising sun
By coincidence from my side, by god's will from Tumur's, the sun rose at the exact moment when we reached that top. And it was really beautiful.

Tumur praying in the rising sun
 As Tumur prayed in the sunrise, I went on jumping on the mountain top. But I really wished for one thing: to return safely to Ulaanbataar to meet Janela.

Me jumping on mountain tops
So we slowly descended the mountain to the yurt one last time, I said goodbye to the family and we went to Tsagaanchuluut.

The lonely yurt
Tomorrow I'll have to get away from this place and I have no idea how. If I don't Janela will arrive in Ulaanbataar alone at 5 in the morning. She will not know anybody, she will be underequipped, she will not know the language. She might underestimate the cold and just freeze there. What have I done?