Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Central Province to Middle Gobi!

Today, consisted of traveling from Central Province to the Middle Gobi. The day started off with a flat biscuit sprinkled with sugar, much like a doughnut, and coffee for breakfast. Our journey began by first visiting the ruins of a monastery in the Central Province. This monastery was surrounded by herds of sheep, goats, cows, and horses roaming on rich grassland. Not far from the monastery was a natural underground spring. This was surrounded by a blue fence to act as a marker for all townspeople. Brief history about the monastery: the monastery was burned/destroyed during the Revolution/Liberation from China in 1921. This monastery was a gift for the local Lima's daughter. Approaching the monastery, there was a mountain of stones varying in shape and size with an array of colorful scarves, such as blue, red, yellow, green, and white. Migaa explained that this is an "o-wa," a stone temple made by a particular family from the Central Province. The scarves represents a different aspect of the Mongolian people. Blue represents the sky, red represents evil, yellow represents religion, green represents nature, and white represents the mare's milk. The religious tradition surrounding the "o-wa" is that a person selects three rocks, blows on them for good luck, and walks counter clockwise three times while throwing a rock each passing time. When throwing the rock, the person makes a wish and hopes that it comes true.
Continuation with our journey and Migaa gave us a general lesson about animals(cows, sheep, goats, horses, and camels) in Mongolia. All animals are used as a means of food on a daily basis. There is a 13:1 ratio of animals to Mongolians! Shortly after the overview about nature, we stopped for a picnic lunch. There was much sand and some mountain area with beautiful lizards and insects that were bright blue and green. We jumped in the van and continued with the journey. Before arriving to our ger for the night, we made a detour to a White Natural Stupor. Mishka drove in and whipped around to the edge of the stupor. It felt as if we all could fall out of the van...terrifying! The stupor consisted of various colors-red, purple, blue, and orange. it appeared to be massive from looking above. But, once we climbed below through the valleys of the mountains, it was quite an illusion. I was amazed at how the earth could develop such beautiful natural colors. This was something that I had never seen before....absolutely beautiful! I observed Mishka and Migaa participating in the sacred tradition of throwing the three rocks and making three wishes to the "o-wa."
We arrived to the ger and it immediately felt like a tourist establishment rather than staying with a real nomadic family. However, the family was still very welcoming and provided wonderful hospitality. Dinner consisted off dumpling filled with rice and dried camel. This was actullay quite tasty and I was completely surprised with how much I liked it. Also, I was introduced to Maggi(basically MSG) and now completely addicted to it. Thanks to Caroline! This is her favorite additional flavor to mostly all food. We spent the evening conversing with new friends from Germany, France, Holland, and Canada. Also, we had the luxury of trying Mongolian wine, which I will never recommend to others. The only way to describe this experience is to explain the ingredients of this fruitful wine: grape compound, sugar, and some chemical for fermentation. Sounds YUMMY, uh? And of course, I didn't sleep well!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the pictures! Looks like all is beautiful. Thank goodness there is no smell-a-vision. LY,Sherry