A slice of Happiness in Mongolia!
A slice of happiness in Mongolia!
The wind is strong on the desert between the mountains, it catches our clothes and hair and blows sand high up in the air. The desert seems almost never ending here, at 2000km. In the horizon stand magnificent mountains, whose snowy peaks glisten brightly in the evening sun.
We’ve made good use of Epeli’s off road properties and driven way off the main road. Our plan is to stay overnight in the middle of the desert. We are truly alone here. There’s no internet access, no phone signal, no supermarkets or even small kiosks, no hits on the radio or the noise of traffic. Watching the desert surrounding us brings about a truly unique feeling! The sunset dyes the surrounding mountains in purple and at night, the sky is bright with stars! Directly above our motorhome shines Cassiopeia. There are countless stars visible to the naked eye even between the constellations, as if we were looking at them through a telescope.
As we walk along the stony, sandy ground where even the grass patches feel hard and scratchy on our feet, we ponder just how unfair the distribution of natural resources and their benefits is. Others really have a tough time getting their daily bread. That’s definitely the case for the shepherds who roam with their herds in this dry and stony land and live in yurts all year round, through both extreme cold and hot seasons. Mongolia’s natural resources, such as gas and minerals remain largely untouched and with foreign investors there’s a risk that the profits from these resources will roll into the pockets of others rather than Mongolians.
But what’s needed for happiness? On the stone framed yard of a white yurt sits a mother doing her chores, with a little girl beside her. The big brother is running around, lost in play. A black haired youth with a solid build rides proudly on his horse, herding his goats. An old man with his weather beaten face and a walking stick in his hand smiles from ear to ear as he greets the first finns he’s ever met. I see a glimpse of happiness in the eyes of them all. The Mongols still remain untamed, children of the wild.
Those living the shepherd lifestyle may not have read all that many books or be that clued up on what is considered manners outside their own village. They can spit, pee or pick their noses right next to you without any hesitation. But on the other hand they joyfully greet all visitors to the village and are hospitable and helpful when needed. The yurts always welcome visitors and there’s no need to knock on the door. It’s customary to simply shout “Nokhoi Khor!” – catch the dog! We attempt to learn at least a few words of Mongolian, but it proves to be insurmountable due to its peculiar throat and cheek sounds.
While we’re on the subject of happiness; as the evening chills I make a cup of cup ‘o soup, wrap myself in a blanket bought by our children and look in the eyes of my husband who’s had a long day driving on challenging, bumpy dirt tracks - and just at this moment, I am happy!