Mongolia: A nomadic experience, quality time outside of time
Living with a nomadic family in Mongolia
I dreamed of nature, large green spaces, serenity and simplicity. In essence, I went to Mongolia in a nomadic family full of hopes and dreams to the country called "the land of the blue sky."
Of course, the time of arrival and adaptation was hard. Indeed, everything was upset. There was no existence of an environmental pace of life in Mongolia. However, I thrived to not only adapt to another culture, but to another family, and especially to another way of living in a continuous timeframe.This is precisely what was available out there: time. This community works to produce what it needs along with the rhythm of the sun. Therefore, once work is done, there is time to do what we want.
But what to do with this time and new freedom?
Only while in the middle of the steppe, I was able to acclimatize. I read about Buddhism more as a philosophy than a religion. I found elements in my evolving mindset that expressed clearly what I felt in that space. My new comprehension of Buddhism was a logical development because of my new existence in a Buddhist region. "Learning to enter the present moment allows us to better open up reality as it is. As a painter or a poet, we learn to look at what genuineness is and appreciate it” sums up what one feels after a time in the steppe.
I would often walk to the river or in the hills to contemplate the immensity of my host country. It was soothing to be there, in the middle of the vastness, with silence and contemplate views so immeasurably breathtaking. No external disturbances existed such as a cars, honks or ringing phones. Nothing interrupts the course of events in this place where nature remains dominant.
We are the essentials
And that was sufficient. Indeed, the nomads are very non-materialistic people. They have only what they need. This makes sharing and solidarity the essential pillars of their community. The doors of the yurts in Mongolia are never closed. Families come help another for the most complicated tasks. And as we break bread together, they share goats, sheep, marmots and vodka with open arms. From time to time these items are made from in neighbouring yurts which make for great meals. Everyone had a hand in the dough, men involved in killing of livestock and women of cooking.
Some of the most heart-warming moments were when they assist each other in work. Some days a large proportion of the community were found in a pen in order to cure or to catch livestock. The work was tiring, especially when the heat was sweltering and neither shade nor wind comes to relieve us. But no one was missing when the work was completed to enjoy a shot of vodka.
When I was put to work
At first it was hard. It took my hosts time to trust me that I could do something other than housework. However, I rose from a house worker to a part-time shepherd. I had to take care of the two children (Enkhchin, 4 years and Elkha 2 years) but also to bottle feed the baby camel, or move the herds, scissor shear sheep, and milk bulls.
I spent a month with this nomadic family. A family who certainly did not speak the same language as me, but with whom I wove real links. Our relationships was not built with conversions of words, but through learning to live together, getting used to the presence of one another, communicating by gestures, smiles and showing mutual respect.
There certainly were hard times, but remembered above all were times of sharing and happiness. Many laughs arose due to language barrier difficulties. My time was also filled with emotional moments when small demands were placed on me. All these moments are forever etched in my memory, and now are privileged moments from another time.
This month in the Mongolian steppe was amazing. Discovering another culture made me question and look closely at mine. I drew from real life lessons that I am sure will service me for the rest of my career in a professional environment. I have learned to appreciate time and silence at its fair value in this land of an immense sky illuminated (almost) always blue.