Gobi Day 4
Hi Guys and Dolls
Another boring day in the Gobi. Why did I want to see and experience the Gobi? Most of you think I am crazy. Read on.
I could not sleep all night. The dung burning stove heated my Ger to a point that it felt like a warm and dry sauna. On top of the Ger is a large opening. During the day, half of the opening is exposed to the air and the Ger is ventilated with fresh air. Finally had enough and dressed at 5:30 for our morning shoot. Told them to not heat my Ger tonight.
We all met in the dining area for coffee and then went out to shoot the sunrise. We drove to the Mongolian camel herders. In the Gobi, people who live here, do not live together. Families have their own Ger camp and each camp is spread out. You can go for miles before you see a Ger camp or it can be a shorter distance. The Ger families that I have seen have been herders of either horses, camels, sheep, cattle or a combination of them. This is Andy’s first time in the Gobi and it is important for him to develop relationships with local people so that each future workshop can have a great experience. We met the camel herders and their camels at the same dune location we had last taken pictures of them last night.Andy and Kevin wanted to capture the sunrise over the dunes. Got some great pictures and have learned so much from Andy, Kevin and Kip. They are far advanced and I love being the lowest rung on the ladder.
Returned to the Ger camp for breakfast. Had lots of coffee and Kevin forced some more electrolytes into me. It was then rest time until lunch at 3 PM. I downloaded my morning pictures and started to edit. I am not going to tell you yet how many pictures I have taken, but will reveal the number later. I am learning so much from the guys working with lightroom and photoshop. Can edit most of my images now manually. It seems that you cannot take a bad picture in the Gobi. The guys said it has to do with the light. There is no smog and pollution. The light is natural and it shows through on the pictures. Hopefully I will be done editing by the time I get home. Have some long flights and will probably edit on the plane. The process that I use now is I present to Olivia the images I want to publish and she then carefully picks the best ones. It is good to have another opinion and someone who was not there. The number of pictures I publish has been getting smaller and smaller as my photographic skills have advance. By the way, I am winning the contest for the best picture taken on this workshop. Andy said I should get a large copy printed on metal. The guy in last place is leading the pack as we come to the finish line.
Had lunch at 3 PM. Lunch was so tasty. We were served Mongolian spaghetti with chopped mutton. The spaghetti was totally different than any other spaghetti I have ever had.
Onto our late afternoon shoot. Andy had arranged for us to drive to a horse and camel herders Ger camp. Probably 5 miles from our Ger camp. It is a Mongolian custom that you have to first meet the family, have tea and other snacks with them and then do your business. Andy and Kevin volunteered myself and Zaya to meet the family and have tea. It is rude and unacceptable to not take anything that is offered to you. Andy and Kevin were served tea at the Camel herders Ger yesterday. Zaya and myself entered the family Ger and were introduced to the herders wife and her mother wo is 84. The Ger is set top where the wife has the right side and the husband the left side. Right opposite the door, on the other side of the Ger, is the religious area. The family is buddhist. A stove is in the middle for heating and cooking and there is a table where people sit on the floor around it. We were first served tea with goat milk. I wonder if it was pasteurized? Tasted different but tasty. We also were served homemade cookies and were told to dip them in the goat milk tea. The wife and grandmother wanted to know where I was from, was I married, how many years am I married, and how many children and grandchildren I have? It seems the people can tell a lot about someone after they get these facts. We were next served sliced sheep organs. Zaya told me that these were the kidneys, liver, intestines, heart, and all the other organs in the sheep. The mother put the pieces in the goat milk tea and gave me a fork. Don’t forget, it is rude to refuse something. I dived in and took the bullet for Andy and Kevin. Had a good flavor to each piece. The grandmother told Zaya that we were lucky and the sheep was slaughtered yesterday so it was fresh. The husband returned with a bunch of stallions that he had driven up to the camp on his motorcycle and then got on a camel to herd the horses around the area as we clicked away. Imagine this scene. People in the Gobi either travel on motorbike, camel, horse or mostly Russian van.
We then said our goodbyes and headed back to the camel herders camp for another evening shoot with them at another area of dunes. Have you ever walked up a sand dune? For every two steps you loose one step. It is an adventure going down the sand dune. You need to be very careful when you carry camera gear since the camera and lens would probably be ruined if they fell. Talking about my camera gear, the two cameras and three lenses I have taken have gotten beaten up. There is dust all over the Gobi. I constantly have to clean my lenses, filters and Kevin has cleaned one of my camera sensors. We then took some great late day and sunset pictures and returned to the Camel herders Ger camp. We were all invited inside the Ger and first served goat milk tea. The wife brought out small zepole looking cookies that she had made on her stove in the center of the Ger. The cookies were served with Camel cheese made from Camel milk. Don’t forget, you cannot say no. I found the camel cheese to be quite interesting and different. Some of the herders sons came into the Ger and joined us. Next the father took out snuff for us to put on our ring fingers and sniff into our noses. The snuff is made from crushed traditional rocks and tobacco. The father then got out a full bottle of Mongolian vodka. He filled a silver bowl and handed the silver bowl to each of us one at a time. We then had to hand it back to him and he would put more vodka in the saucer and hand it to the next person sitting around the table. The handling of the saucer of vodka went only clockwise. This is part of the Mongolian tradition. While all this was going on, the family wanted to hear about each of us and our families. When Kevin told the father he would be back in July and bring him some vodka, the father asked him if he could bring him a house. There was a cat in the Ger. The cat climbed up the tent and left from the opening on the top and returned later through the same opening as he fell down while we were talking.
We finally said our goodbyes and returned to our Ger camp. Everyone said that dinner was great, but I could not eat. I was very full from the sheep organs and Camel cheese and all the Mongolian cookies.
By the way, when I return home Olivia will probably not let me sleep in the same bed as her until I get a complete physical and tetanus shot. I know Lindsay will certainly quarantine me from her children for a while.
Have not taken a shower in two days. You can understand. Andy and myself had a wager who would use the toilet first for you know what. I lost.
It is now 9:35 PM in the Gobi. I hope this day has answered why I wanted to come to the Gobi.
Tomorrow AM we travel to another Ger camp. Spend one night there and then back to UB. For our final wind up. My last dinner will be a surprise.