Day 10- Trash Duty

It seems like I’m doing less and less every day as the end of my visit approaches. I thought it would be the opposite. I woke up feeling a bit regretful because the night before Annjah had invited me to go on a horseback ride with her to the nearby river. I said yes of course, as long as it was OK with my hosts. Her host and my hosts had exchanged a few words on this topic I’m guessing and nothing more was said.  It was unfortunate because I had a lot of idle time this day anyway.

After discussing her volunteer experience, Annjah seemed to have a lot more free time than I.

We did the morning horse pickup on motorcycle today instead of walking around and looking for them. This saved a lot of time. I did the regular goat sorting in morning and evening as usual. This day however was characterized by trash duty.Wheelbarrow of (mostly) vodka bottlesI would guess for about a 150 meter radius around the Ger, my task was to gather up the trash which consisted of:

  • Animal bones
  • Empty glass and plastic bottles and containers
  • Metal gadgets including auto and machinery parts
  • other miscellaneous garbage, like discarded kids toys.

Wheelbarrow of Animal bones Wheelbarrow of general garbage







It actually was not very hard work at all. Because I had nothing else to do, I did a very thorough job for the net 3 hours. The trash is gathered into a wheelbarrow and then moved into the back of the nomad’s utility truck like this one:Nomad Utility Truck

The whole time I was gathering the trash, I pondered upon the irony of doing this in the beautiful and natural Mongolian landscape. The fact is that except for the animal bones, all of this trash was generated by nomads themselves. Nature is a luxury for us city dwellers, but just the everyday environment for the nomads.

I’m guessing they do this kind of clean up periodically, maybe once or twice a year and then haul the trash to Altanbulag (about 1 hour drive away). I’m wondering if anything gets recycled, but no way to tell.

The day ended as usual with the evening meal, and some TV.  Tomorrow will be the last FULL workday and then about 1/2 a workday on the day of departure.

Day 9- Rain!

I woke up to the sounds of rain ( <– Isn’t that a  song lyric? ) early this morning! It’s the first substantial rain since I’ve been here. It is welcome as most of the land is barren and the grass needs to grow so the livestock can feed.

The world doesn’t stop just because it’s raining (or snowing or any other kind of weather). There is still work to be done and animals that need tending. The Nomads have very nice modern rain gear similar to a jumpsuit. The foot portions are extra large so that they can fit over the horseback riding boots the nomads need to wear.  Boots covering the ankle and lower shin are required otherwise the “stirrup” will dig into your shin (leg).

Continue reading Day 9- Rain!