Alone with the Earth
Lightning flashes brighten the sky, thunder rumbles furiously, hail falls on the tent. The torrential rain that followed shaped the fiery wind. We are privileged witnesses to the most beautiful spectacles on this Earth, sumptuous, at times terrifying.
In the middle of Mongol steppes, there is only us and the Earth. The whole horizon is expanding. We are alone in these wild spaces, totally immersed in the impressions, sensations and scents of this land of freedom. A wave of happiness carries us, we are exalted by the power of the place, enlivened by the beauty of the landscapes and bewitched by the lights.
The panorama undulates and becomes a mountain chain. A river meanders into the heart of the steppes. It truly dances on the territory, as it winds its way. The valley is dotted with white spots. It’s the yurts. The herds that surround them are gigantic. Cows graze in the valley, sheep and goats on the slopes. The horses, free and fiery, gallop in the wind.
Gers are the symbols of life in Mongolia. Today, more than half of the population still lives in this traditional home, even in the middle of the city. The wooden door is usually painted with beautiful symbols. Two central columns support the yurt and the tono, which is the circular part of the top. The altar is at the back of the yurt. The feminine part is in the east, the masculine part in the west..
Mongolia is about exploring wild spaces but it is also about meeting nomads. Here, we are witnessing traditional life.
Two shepherds wearing a deel leave on their horses. Narantsetseg asks us to enter the ger. Meat dries on the wooden frame. She invites us for the famous slightly salted milk tea, the süüütei tsai. She prepares it on the stove fed by dung. Then she places a bowl of khuruud, dried yogurt balls, öröm, cream, and bread on the table. His eight-month-old son chews a piece of sheep fat. Each gesture is a symbol of this life in the heart of the steppes.M
Mongolia is a harsh country and its people have chosen resilience and strength. The resilience of living in this territory, sometimes to the point of forgetting the rest of the world. And strength, harshness and fighting, a yang energy that is infused by Genghis Khan’s warriors and continues to be glorified. In this culture so full and proud, the encounters are powerful. They don’t have half measures. They reflect this nomadic life in the heart of the steppes. Children dressed in a deel play with the things around them, in the simplicity of a nomadic life in yurts.
The older ones are involved in the daily tasks of herding, and for each gesture that composes this life: chopping wood, fetching water, milking cows, preparing meat, drying fermented milk. From a very young age they are skilled horsemen.
They are also training to celebrate Naadam. It is the most important festival in Mongolia. Three games take place during the event, "the three games of men": Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery.
Some of them join the Tibetan Buddhist temples. Otgonbayr is 13 years old. 6 years ago he entered this life of prayer and contemplation. He left school to engage in spiritual teaching. Thus he learns to read Tibetan texts, Buddhist sutras and mantras.