Ovorkhangai Province, Mongolia
Trip Start Mar 13, 2007
92Trip End Aug 10, 2007
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After taking a wrong turn or two leaving a small named Khujirt, once Charlie and Ben were convinced we were back on the right road (or perhaps right dirt track) south we found a campsite in a broad mountain valley and prepared for our last cold night before entering the desert. There were several gers in the valley, so Tamir suggested I join him for a visit with the family
According to Tamir, in this case our host was a bachelor and the youngest son in the family. As such, he inherited all the family's livestock (as is traditional in Mongolia) and lived a thoroughly nomadic life. All the children running around outside were his nieces and nephews, and the residents of the gers besides his were his older siblings and their families who lived in town for most of the year and only joined him in a ger camp for a few summer months. All our Mongolian hosts have been very kind, but I have to admit that the sour sheep's milk yogurt and salted yak butter tea they usually serve us are a struggle for me to drink
We had another long day of driving into an increasingly desertlike environment, punctuated only by a several hour long stop for some food and beer shopping in Arvaikheer, the provincial capital. We camped well to the south of Arvaikheer in an area where the grassland steppe morphed into the full blown Gobi desert and spent a good part of the evening watching a spectacular lighting storm dump rain and hail from the sky as it slowly approached us. We finished dinner and cleaned up as the winds began to pick up. I ran for my tent just as a dust storm from the thunderstorms downdraft hit with tremendous winds that blew the campsite apart. My tent was flattened with me in it, only my body weight keeping it and my sleeping gear it contained from being blown into the next province. I managed to catch my tent's fly sheet just as the nails holding it down were ripped out of the sandy soil by the force of the wind. Meanwhile, though, my tent bag got carried off in the direction of China like Dorothy's house in the tornado in the Wizard of Oz, never to be seen again.