Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Nomadic life

Mongolia is a massive and sparsely populated country. With an area of 1.564.115 km2 and just 2,800,000 inhabitants, the density of the country is reduced to less than 2 persons per km2. However, in real terms, the density is much lower, since 1,300,000 of the total population of the country, live in Ulaanbaatar, the capital. The result is a country where nature in its pure state is experienced almost all times but, except for the desert regions, is not an empty nature but one that is inhabited sparingly. Half of the country's population is nomadic and semi-nomadic, the latter being those who practice nomadism seasonally, settling in villages to spend the winter. Nomads and their lifestyle is something that has intrigued and captivated me from a very early age (it is no coincidence the kind of life I live) and it is one of the main reasons why I wanted to cycle in this country so much

Monday, November 18, 2013

The magic of the steppe

It is a tale

To depart from Ulaanbaatar was much more than getting out an ugly city. Departing Ulaanbaatar was to get out of what we, urban dwellers, know as the very same "world". It was a relocation to a space and time that for us and for those who grew up and still live in cities, it is only part of a faraway imaginary planted in oneself through storybook reading or described images in the books of history of some distant time. They are only a mere 50 km which separate hell from heaven, reality from the tale, the crowded from emptiness. From chaos to serenity, as one goes deeper into the steppe, the magic fills your senses and time seems to gradually begin to stop. 200 km and, if there is still a vehicle to remind us about the modern world, the remembrance is completely extinguished by the time we get out of one of the few paved roads in the country and enter a different world, a past world. The Mongolian steppe is a lonely space that, with its soft shapes and subtle colors, encourages serenity and soothes the soul. In it, roads disappear and become tracks traced in the grass, forking one, two,  three and up to ten times as one cycles on. Without signals, one needs to be guided by map and compass as sole means of reference to avoid becoming lost.

Entering into a tale through a dark cave.

There are moments in life that are slow in coming. Moments, that perhaps, one has been looking forward and even yearning for days, months or years. Moments by which one learns to cultivate patience, while every day putting a little of oneself in order to eventually make them real. So I've waited for years the moment to get to Mongolia, a country that I have been wanting to visit for longer than I can remember. As time goes on, the more I tend to believe that there is an intrinsic intelligence in how fate sorts the events of life, because I could have chosen many other opportunities to travel around this country but they would have never been the right time. This time it was, at least so it felt and the experience was one of those who sublimate the soul and overflow the senses.