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If Alga didn’t want to get wet: so she jumped. I tried to stay calm. If someone told me that I was going to jump on a horse through a swamp I wouldn’t have gone, but here I was and I have to rely on Alga.

Powerful horses and nature

With my guide Boldo and three horses we go through the national park not far from UB. The park is the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in Mongolia. The first day you see many ger’s, campsites of ger’s – which is no different from what our campsites look like, except that there are ger’s and no tents and caravans – and hotels.

From day two it’s only nature, my guide, the horses and I. Every morning and evening I see the sun rise and set. The view, the skies, and the sun that comes through it is indescribably beautiful, but because I have not had electricity for days, I have no pictures.

No muscle pain & Catalan doctors

I thought I would have muscle pain from riding, everyone I met warned me about that, but I don’t have muscle pain, I think it’s great to sit on a horse and feel the power of such an animal. I wonder why, as a child, I did not take riding lessons. My idea is to take some riding lessons in Australia to get better.

However, from day one I do have problems with a swollen right knee. At first it wasn’t that bad, but it gets thicker by the day and hurts when we go down, for example from a hill or mountain. It is a hilly landscape, so that happens often. At first I think I’m sitting on the horse incorrectly, but there’s nothing wrong with my other knee.

Day three we arrive at a temple for lunch. I am hungry! We don’t have much to eat and I have been living on white bread with jam for days. That is now coming out of my nose. At the lunch area I meet two Catalans. They are a couple. They say they are Spanish – which they are not – and soon we are talking about the Catalan referendum which was invalid according to the Spanish Government, the European Union which did not do anything, and a friendly lawyer who was arrested for a second time and has been in prison since March. And of which nothing is known about the date of the hearing or about which he is accused.

I get a vegetarian cusp from them and they tell me they are doctors. Yes, I think I can ask straight away about my knee, which is now quite thick. The man looks at it thoroughly and compares it to my other leg. He goes with his hands over the countless mosquito bites I have – the horses attract countless insects. He says it is probably a big fly that can bite. He asks how long I’ve had it, that’s three days, but I’m saying one – no idea why I’m saying that. The woman then says that it will pull away like this. Otherwise, I’m taking antibiotics, or don’t I have them with me? No, sorry,’ I say. I’ve never had antibiotics in my life and certainly don’t have them with me. Perhaps it is standard in doctors’ travel packages, but not in mine. Is that necessary?

Eating, eating, eating

We drive on and I am starting to worry about our food supply. We are on the road for three days and still have two days to go on horseback. In Boldo’s (my guide) food supply I only saw a bag of rice and a pack of noodles. That is not enough. And the gas pit we have stops that day. That evening we drive on until late until we reach a camp. There we get some milk tea from the girl the ger maintains, what often young girls are and we can warm up our rice. Boldo throws in half a packet of butter – bake – but I eat it up, because I am very hungry.

The next morning we have breakfast with bread and jam which I hardly get away with. Moreover, the sandwiches have been wet since day one because we went through many rivers and the first day the food got wet. We do not have tea, because we do not have a gas burner that does what we could make tea with. I talk to a handsome young Mongol who works for two Americans who hike on horses (Stone Horse is the name of the organization). The horses look good and they use American saddles, not the wooden rope saddles that the Mongols use which is not good for the horses.

The guide asks if things are going well for me and if I feel comfortable with my guide. He is the third Mongolian guide to ask me if I am OK. I am beginning to wonder why. My guide looks messy, he doesn’t talk to the guides we come across. These are often well-educated boys who work for better organisations and who speak English. I’ve been on a silent retreat for days, because Boldo can only ‘stop’ and ‘go’ in English, so we don’t talk to very little. Questions about age or how long we have to drive are complicated and he can’t answer them.

I hope that I don’t find myself in the film that my guide is weird and that I – naive as I can – have a good time with you.

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