Road returning, has been like being inside a dream,
Our bikes were resting while we were getting the visa,s extension and in this meanwhile the rain had transformed the dry landscapes into a greenland. That one we had missed a lot a the first part of our trip through this country.
The daily storms we,re having every day, have brought the abundance, the greens landscapes and hundres of flowers (yellow,white, purple). It seems Carnival with different colours everywhere, it is a party for the senses!!!
Taking back the bikes after the days in the capital, the first sensations were fullness and joy. It was so mucha that, in a momment I couldn´t repress the impulse of jump from the bicycle and start to dance in the steppe while Aitor was approaching me ending the climbing to the pick with a big smile and a specila light in his eyes….both of us were feeling the same.
The days of bureaucracy had left us with just 17 days for pedaling so, we had decided that we will resing ourselves to the fact that we haven´t time enough to pedal allthe way as we use to do, as we love to do, so we opened the map and made a new plan. We wanted to pedal as much as we could; looking at the map and being forced to choose we decided to definitely forget the south, the desert, and ride in the northen lands the maximum that we could, leaving a couple o days off to cross the country by train to the chinesse border. Pedaling till the last moment, enjoying this wonderfull lands to the limit.
In the north of the country we had found the Mongolia we had been dreaming with. After the visit to Khovskol lake we had took a small path which cross the mountains. A very remote way that only mongol people know,a narrow road which crosses the mountains.We found a big zone of trees, woods, rivers… yes… rivers and watter, finally!!! but maybe more than we wanted, because crossing so much rivers, we spend some days wet as a dolphin in the sea.
The water has been a constant in this last part: the Lake, the rivers… and rain…. rain has complicated the days of pedaling. Still the weather is cold in the North of the country so to get weet it could end into getting ill easily.
We were remembering the cicling days in Ethiopia, or Vietnam… with that hot we cyclied, getting wet, then getting dry, then wet again… it was a fun pleasure!!!
Our tent was the first one discovering that the age never forgives. After of resisting the strong winds of the Chinese desert and the Mongolian Western part, the unions are so forced that now enters water trhough many of them, it has holes and reallly seems an old lady who today have a pain here and tomorrow a problem there.
Finally with this about the leaking we had bought a plastic blanket to cover the tent and by this the problem is already solved. Happy and calm we can see now how is rainny outside and enjoy with it.
Back pedalling with the feeling of having gotten into an electronic game of those, in which the character has to go through screens and overcoming evidence that vary each so much, every day a new adversary that makes you develop new arts and tactics to win this duel wich, in such extreme lands, is moving forward.
We were laughing, taking easy the fact that, here everything is so extreme that if there is sand.. you stab, if there is wind… it is stormy, if it is sunny… it burns you, but… take care!! because, if it hides behind the clouds, it gets so cold again that i possible that in a minute you have to wear a thik winter jacket. Now that begins the storms season… when it rains is not for long time, sometimes ten minutes but it rains a lot and the lightings and thunders are so mucha that we have never seen something similar. Now we understand why the most of the Mongols, since Gengis Khan times, are so scare of the storms.
In these days, if you look around you can see not one, but several storms at the same time here and there. Mixed with areas of blue sky and white clouds. Such vision form a fascinating image that every second shifts and transforms, a vision in which one could spend hours observing it.
Thus we continue touring the northern area which after the forests, we went back to a beautiful area in which forest and steppe were alternating, forming so beautiful places that make you forget the suffering, hardness of pedaling those areas.
Nomads in this area have huge flocks which are normally accompanied by a teenager or child by horse and these along with the eagles have been our travel partners on the way. Meetings in these lands which sparsely populated are scarce, but we had some, because the curiosity that the Mongolians felt when the saw us through the binoculars made them to approach to us to see who we are, where we go and come, what we have on the bicycles.
Curious as they are, to the core, approaching with such calm and tranquillity that characterizes people living not subordinated to a clock; they get down from the horse or the motorbike as soon as they see that you greet them (if not, they remain mounted and usually somehow distant) and they get on their knee on the floor sitting on the heel and remain silent, quiet. The meetings are characterized by something very Mongolian: joke and laughter. If we don’t need a common language to communicate, it is even less necessary to laugh together.
With an eye on the track (which doesn´t allow us to relax even a second) and another in the sky so the storm not caught us by surprise, we continued.
When the storm is coming, we can keep cycling until the first drops start falling, the signal to stop is the time in which rain jacket begins to drain and our pant starts getting wet, then, if as we were dancing, all the movements flow between the synchronized couple: we stop, rear bag goes to the ground at the time that one of us dries it, the bikes on the side of the wind and picking one of each side of the plastic sheet of 2x2m, we sit down, each one on one side of the bag and at the same time we cover ourselves with the plastic.
Protected and warm as if we were in the womb of a mum… just… wait.
Sometimes that has been the hardest thing… wait. The rain kept us there, shrinked, stooped, waiting in silence. Curiously, these have been moments where we never talked, just we listened the drops falling on the plastic, nothing else… our breath and the drops… like in a state of meditation we was there till the rain was referring, then we opened a small hole to look at the sky: if it was getting blue and clear, we packed everething an started pedaling again, if not, we keept there waiting for a while.
It is not easy to make normal life when you have the threat of a new storm, but again we have realized by our own experience how fast the human been can adapt to any tough situation, just it needs the act of normalize (in the mind) it. Then you can addapt to anything. This is the way we have been able to deal with the hardness and the extreme of these lands with calm and without negativities, rather neutral, accepting. Being able to realize and continue enjoying all that on the other hand, we are reciving at the same time as a gift every day, every moment.
Aitor has had enough work in this last month and thanks to its enormous ability to invent and create solutions from nothing; we’ve been able to cross the steppes. His front panniers and my back ones gave us problems which we solved making some holes and with a couple of screws, the stove also gave us a scare as stopped working completely and that, in this place is a real problem because in these lands are very few towns and even if we had been able to continue eating fish tins, hard cheese and bread, that would have been the breakfast, lunch and dinner for the rest of the days. If was for his inventions that he solve the problem (after hours trying and trying) with a cable of the brakes (used as brush) and pumping the stove with the bicycle pump he was able to unblock the hole and to fix it, but the most incredible of all inventions was that one that he thought when, at just 3 days from Ullan Bator and just 60 kms far from the begining of the asphalted road, my front wheel burst. The front rim broke in mor than 46cms long… to this… in the 99% of cases it means having to take a lift (which must be found first in these remote lands) to the capital, only place where you can find a shop with bike wheels and change it because there is no way to repair the broken rim.
As usually happens with great ideas, it appeared when he ceased to think and rethink (and already in what we was thinking it was in how to get to the capital being… there…..in the middle of nowhere) suddendly the idea came and hi tried it as if it wouldn´t work, almost as a joke … but ….it worked!!!
We arrived at the capital city with time enough just to take a train and leave the country before our visa expire. Mongolia was over.
We are happy because the hardness of these lands are over, but sad because is one of the most amazing countries we have ever seen.
With the emptyness, the quietness and the silence of those lands inside of ourselves we keep going, we keep this for us, the feeling to be in the middle of the steppe with the wind and Eagles as unique companions.