With the eyes tired to see so much brown, we entered into Mongolia; these, thersty for greens, opened since we crossed the border looking for the same steppe with which both had dreamed, searching for the rivers and the water of which they had heard about, We were looking for it every day, waiting, whishing that behind the next hill finally appeared the freshness and the abundance of grass and pasture. We have past the limits of mental resistance to the desert and our souls were requesting us to change something to change this dry horizon that although not ceases to be beautiful but it was enough of aridity, of carring lots of watter and of all the limitations that to cycle in desert areas brings.They Have been more than 3000 kms of desert lands but still we had to wait almost 20 days of pedalling inside Mongolita to reach the northen areas where started to appear the rivers and freshneens of the greens around us.
The entire western part has been desert because the rains did not arrive until the end of July and the country at this time, just has been newly got rid of the “white dress” of the winter wich here lasts for eight months when the temperatures can reach up to -30ºC.
The world here is still wishing for the arrving of the heat of the sun and the change in the temperatures, which can rise or drop in a single day so much thatwe have to have all the clothes at hand because we can pass from pedaling with the woolen cap and gloves, to the short sleeves sweting under the sun in a matter of hours, sometimes minutes because, it is enough that a cloud covers the sun to make you feel that the winter is here again.
Extreme Country. Hard and extreme climate that it strikes you without mercy.
They say it is due to the same thing, to the hardness and extreme conditions of these lands, where it comes from the hobby of the Mongols to laughter, to humor. This is what for us more characterized them: their curiosity, but above all, his good sense of humor. That, the humor has been what more we have shared with them when, for one or another reason we have entered into a yurt: laughter, laughter and joy.
The most of the population is Buddhist, religion that here mingled with the shamanism, which, as we has been told has its origin in this part of the world.
The Mongols, remember us a lot the African people in their naturalness and “sharp” forms, simplicity and joy but, also they remind us to Muslims in the sense of their hospitality. Knowing that in case we need something they always are there to help us.
The wind, that even dramatic sweeping the country, continued to accompany us every day and made us to spend some nights with the soul almost “praying” wishing that the tent resist to such powerfull force and do not break in one hundred parts.
Going through tracks that one never knows sure where they go or how they are, we have been traveling all over the country. The compass in these lands cannot fail or be kept on the bottom ofn the saddlebags because here there are no roads or signs, one is guided by the direction to which you are going and in relation to this, choose the track that apparently is directed toward it; if it starts to deviate too much and makes you suspect that it is not the right one, the best is to stop and wait for someone that passes by motorbike or horse (which is the most common way to get around in this country in which to move over long distances is neither cheap, nor common and therefore to cross with a car or van sometimes does not happen in a day), it happens normally that nobody, no one person pass in many hours so then the best is to keep cicling and try to approach to any yurt or ger, for that, we had to walk sometimes up to a kilometer but, there is no other way in this remotes lands if one truly wants to make sure of where it leads the track that you chose.
Anytime that anyone approche to a ger, you are welcome and a cup of tea with milk with a touch of salt will wait for you. These nomad’s houses are made by thin wooden sticks, strings and the cover varies from something similar to wool carpets to strong thik fabric that the line outside
The “gers” or “yurt” have an internal order in which everything is placed in obedience to a meaning and rules that come from a very old cultural tradition.
The two sticks that they hold the central arch wich is holding all the others which are forming the roof, symbolize the man and woman of the house. When they have guests, those are seated on the left side of the yurt and the man of the house in the middle right side. The woman is the one who prepares the tasty tea, and offers it to the guests, along with a few small and long pieces of deep-fried (flour, yeast, water and animal fat, sometimes also a touch of sugar) that is, along with the meat and the paste the basis of its food.
Now that spring is coming and the cows begin to give birth, appear the dairy products in their diets which they take in the form of yogurt, or in some tasty and strong pieces of dry cured cheese.
Mongolia has been every day tough, that has been repeated every day until now. Hardness.
Each day we were aware that here we have to forget to count kms, to think in to reach some point or even to make plans because we didn’t know what the day might bring us but, we would surely be a new challenge.
Some days we found lot of sand in the tracks and that means push, with bicycles as heavy as ours, the sand literally draws you, seems it wants to eat you . There is no other way to keep going but pushing, sometimes even in areas, the two of us together had to push one bike each time on the sand, normally due to the very steep climbs that appear. Sometimes when he saw them we felt to laught, as if it were a bad joke thinking that we had to go through them.
These tracks were made by men who were traveling on horseback or walking, not by cars so it becames normal that it crosses the highest part of the mountains .
Mongolia asks you one hundred percent each day, physically and mentally, especially this last cannot fall down, not in these lands, here there are no “in-betweens”.
In the last few days, the hurricane winds have been less powerfull. In this time of the year the wind starts to slow down and give way to the rains. In the last week the storms has made us develop new techniques and ways. We cycled the last week with an eye on the ground and another in the sky, watching the clouds, stretching the pedalling up until the last moment in which the rainfall was imminent, then, the plastic that we use to place under the tent when we camp, has served us of cover: sitting on one of the bags-backpack we put it over us so we became something like a plastic ball. There, inside we waited till the storm passed away and we were allowed to return to cycling. The cold wind of the north has been warning us continuously, saying that here, one cannot be wet across the steppe, not with this cold. To cycle under the rain when the temperature is 5 degree, is not pleasant at all.
The last week gave us a gift and has been to reach a new part of Mongolia, the one we had dreamed with, where the rivers have watter and the grass, the steep is green.
We are happy to finish these days of bureaucracy (extension of Mongolian visa, visa of china) in the capital, to return to the small town where we left the bicycles to come here, and return to our way, this time, into the green steppes of the north.
This country where the days are as long as one can count with the fingers of one hand the hours of darkness, in which the gaze is lost in the grandeur of the uninhabited areas, wide open spaces, in the huge herds, and especially in the impressive beauty of the amplitude and grandeur of a space that here is spectacularly beautiful: the sky.