Sunday, April 17, 2016

Springtime in the Countryside

Thursday and Friday, Caleb and I were both sick for different reasons. We stayed home from school and took turns weaving in and out of consciousness and generally being sick. Caleb had some stomach problems, possibly due to some food poisoning. I was running a fever with a stuffy nose without being able to breathe. We were a pretty pitiful pair.

On Saturday, we were feeling mostly better. On Sunday, we were excited to have the opportunity to get out of the city. After thinking about it, we realized that we haven’t left our site since December… It was long past time for us to get out and the fresh air would do us good after the sickness.

Our sitemate, Kyra’s supervisor is really nice. Her husband is a teacher at my school, and they were nice enough to invite the three of us to visit some of their relatives in the countryside who are herders. Sunday morning at 9:00 with the snow falling, we all met to begin the one and a half hour car ride across a bumpy dirt road towards nothing.

The herder family's home
 When I mean nothing, I mean no electricity, hardly any roads, no signs that anyone lives in this direction. Later, I noticed the family’s gers had small solar panels outside, which was the only source of electricity.

When we arrived, we immediately saw the camels. Mongolia is home to both domestic and wild Bactrian camels, which have two humps. Later, we found out that these camels can live to be 30-40 years old, and they only reproduce once every three years. We were lucky, then, to get to also see several baby camels!

Kyra with a baby camel

Caleb with a baby camel

Caleb and an adult camel

Kyra and I getting some camel love

Baby camel!
The springtime in a herder’s life means lots of baby animals. Besides the baby camels, we also got to play with baby goats and see a few baby cows. There were so many goats and kids, they had a whole ger to themselves!

Kyra and I with our kids

The goat ger

My teacher, Galaa, with a baby cow
After playing with the animals and visiting with the Mongolians for a while, the five of us that traveled together decided to take a hike. My teacher knew where the highest mountain was in the area, so that’s where we went. It was called the Windy Mountain, and we quickly found out why. It was a ways to the top and a little difficult for me since I don’t get a lot of elevation change and don’t have to walk very far to school and was still in the midst of a cold with labored breathing. But we made it, and the views were incredible.

Caleb, me, Kyra, Kyra's supervisor Enkhtuya
Me and my teacher

After doing a few yoga poses at the top, we descended to head back to the family’s home.

They fed us a typical Mongolian lunch, a rice dish with dried beef and potatoes washed down with hot milk tea. Caleb played cards with the oldest Mongolian man there, while Kyra and I snuck back outside to see the camels and goats once more before leaving.

We got back home by 5:00. It was a great day! It felt so nice to get out of the city for a day and experience the beauty that is the Mongolian countryside. Even though it is still snowy and cold in mid-April, spring here is definitely different from the bitter dry cold of winter.

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