Sunday, January 5, 2014

My girlfriend has come to Mongolia

Who, under the spell of love, with his or her partner in one's arms didn't wisper to his or her ear: "I'll follow you anywhere?"
You should be careful with that sort of promises; one day, your partner might just invite you to Mongolia in temperatures dropping to -30 and pollution reaching a record high.
That is where Janela is going, she turned her words into action and boarded her train in Novosibirsk, Siberia. The ride takes three nights and she should arrive on January 5, at 5 in the morning.
"And how are you going to get her from the train station?," asked Gena.
"By walk?"
"Come on, that is no way for a lady. And it is dangerous so early in the morning. She can freeze or get mugged. I'll come with you."
"She arrives at 5:30! Come on, Gena, that's about the time you go to sleep!"
"I'll change my schedule"
Gena is the type of person who wakes up at 10 or 11, I can't imagine him being at the train station on that time. I don't want to ask this from him.
I sleep at Tumur's place, his wife arranges everything for me. I call Tsoo to check if we can go to his place. Yes we can! It's difficult to access but we can do it.
I leave for the train station at 4:30, it is horribly cold outside. I left my stuff at Tumur's, Janela might have a lot of luggage.
At 5:30, there is no train but Gena comes. He is there with his journalist friend. Both are incredibly kind people.
"Are we one time?"
"No train yet."

The train arrives at 6:40. But Janela is nowhere to be seen. Me and my friends scan every wagon.
"Have you seen a Kyrgyz girl?" No one has seen her. Her phone is also off. I am really worried. Maybe she missed her train, that wouldn't surprise me too much; Kyrgyz people are not a kind to be on time and Janela is no exception.
We are considering to abandon the search when I see her somewhere in a hallway. We fall to each other's arms, like in a hollywood movie.
"Oh my god, I was so afraid!" There was a guy following her. Happens all the time.
We stay like this for a while, leaving our journalist friend in a weird position. He tries to communicate, he is kind to us but Janela doesn't have the strength to socialize with anyone but me.
She is really exhausted, she hasn't slept much during these two last nights, she didn't know wheather someone will be waiting for her or not. And she was right to worry, I almost didn't make it. But I did.
"It's finished now."

Gena and his friend are perfect gentlemen. They treat Janela with the uttermost respect, as a princess; they guide us to the car. And what car? Not Gena's usual korean pickup truck with frozen windows.
Me and Janela enter a spacious Land Cruiser luxurious jeep. It is Gena's parent's car; he convinced them to take it for the occasion. We are now going to the south of Ulaanbataaar to Gena's parents. They live in a magnificent spacious appartment decorated with taste. A table is prepared for us with dishes, sweets, candy, everything anyone could dream of.

Janela with Gena's family
Everything is perfect except Janela's tired of the trip so she doesn't last long before her eyes close.
We are skipping a lot of what Gena has worked hard to prepare but he is understanding and speeds ups the process. We are now going to Gena's place where we recieve a similar welcome. Gena's wife, his wife's sister and son welcome Janela with open arms and we have another avalanche of great food prepared specially for us.

We are welcomed again at Gena's house

"Is that real?" she asks. I am not sure, everything seems to be a hollywood movie. Actually, our relationship has been a fairy tale from the beginning. It should get back to real life at some point, we are both waiting for living a normal couple life but it never comes. The hollywood movie just never ends.
What Gena and his friends have prepared for us is just unbelivable.
We drive the jeep further and further, towards Tsoo's place. We go deeper and deeper into the mountains, the road gets worse and worse. 
The jeep arrives at Tsoo's place

From asphalt road it becomes a dirt road, from dirt road just snow tracks and then even the jeep can't climb anymore. We continue by foot a few hundered meters until we reach a wooden monastery built above the capital city.
Tsoo is waiting for us there."Welcome friends!" He bought this monastary, repaired it and lives there ever since. It gives him peace and has been the place where he realized many important things about life. 
"Welcome friends!," says Tsoo

And what a place, really. The air is clear and clean, the clouds are under us, the pollution too. We see the capital city in a silver mist among the white hills, it really looks like a rare place on earth.
it feels like flying
"It feels as we are flying," says Janela and she is right, this is exactly the way it makes you feel. I am in one of the most romantic places in the world and my girlfriend is beautiful. She is nothing unlike european girls, she is dressed with taste, she has makeup, she is Kyrgyz and she looks it.
Janela at the porch

"This place is special. Every evening is unlike the other," says Tsoo.
Janela is exhausted, she really needs to sleep. She falls on the bed and eyes close.
Tsoo leaves us for a moment, he goes to fix some wood stove. As anyone would have guessed, after not having seen each other for 3 months, left alone in the most romantic place in the world, me and Janela start making love, at least until Tsoo enters the room again.
"I've found a perfect stove!," he says, genuinly excited, "oh... I'll come a bit later."

"Oh my god!," says Janela, covering her eyes, "what did we do, now he thinks I am a prostitute! I can never look him in the eyes again."
"Yeah sure. This isn't Kyrgyzstan you know"
Tsoo is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous; he has seen life, good and bad things, he is not one to judge nor to be shocked by two people making love. But Janela is used to Kyrgyz treatement. It is hard to convince her that people don't judge her every move.
What did I do?!
Tsoo decided to build us a romantic place nearby. The monastery consists of several main houses and small wooden chapels eleveted on wooden logs. It is just big enough for two people to sleep in, a table, a stove and a candle.
We install the stove and the chimney.
"Es gibt kein biltplan" (there is no build plan) says Tsoo again, we just install it somehow and light it up. Unfortunately, the place gets filled up with smoke. We try to cover every possible hole but the smoke always finds another way. At the end of the day, it gets better but it's not perfect.

The night is so romantic you would cry. Lights dance over the capital and stars shine as a million of distant suns in space. You can feel the starlight. The candle illuminates our room as we eat chocolate. Beautiful.
"Can you smell the smoke?"
"Yeah, there is a lot of it, right?"
"Damn. This stove sucks."

We are trapped in a triangle with no perfect outcome.
We can be alone, in a warm place but we can't breath.
We can be alone, breath fresh air but we won't be warm.
We can breath fresh air, be warm but not alone. That is, if we sleep in Tsoo's house.

Damn. Two out of three. We chose the second outcome. We heat the place as much as we can, then we throw the burning wood outside and wait for the smoke to go away. The place gets warm for a few hours but temperatures quickly reach -30°C and the night becomes a struggle for survival.
"It is beautiful but I can't take it much longer," says Janela, "I tire quickly from the cold... and I really need a shower."
Janela, with her 45 kilograms and not a gram of fat doesn't last very long in this cold; she freezes instantly.
I decide not to push her too much. Pushing people rarely produces good results. We decide to go to the city.

"I am so happy!," says Janela. We just nearly froze and she has a smile all over her face. Go figure.