Wednesday June 22 Tuvans, Petroglyphs and a Big River
Back to our normal wake-up at 0700. We all ride as the ground is too wet for walking. Dosjan has arranged a ger visit with a local Tuvan family.
The Tuvans speak a language unrelated to Kazakh or Mongolian, believe in shamanism, and have smaller gers than the Kazakhs. Only 2 women and some children are present, plus a 3-day old goat that was brought in from the cold. A stove in the middle burns dung.
We are served salt tea, which isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds, having little flavour. The usual solar panel provides power for a TV and music player. Patty brings out treats for the children – toy airplanes for the boys and bubble makers for the girls.
After a while we go outside to view the handicrafts, which are priced fairly high.
The little goat charms all of us.
From the ger we ride to an area which has recently been designated a World Heritage Site because of its treasure trove of well preserved petroglyphs dating from 11, 000 to 1300 years ago.
Eddie plans to lead a vehicle-supported cultural and photographic tour here next June. I stumble around among the boulders but find the terrain hard on my knees. I know that I should be more interested, but I would rather see some of the wildlife depicted in the carvings. So far on this trek we have encountered only livestock.
We lunch in howling wind while our horses relax.
It’s not far to the river and our next camp. The river crossing was supposed to be major, but today the water is shallow.
Patrick kindly takes some excellent photos of me steering Pun’kin across.
Camp is just on the other side, with the usual beautiful view.
Incredible as it seems, we have only two more days in the saddle. I don’t want this trip to end. I would gladly stay here while the short summer yields to snow and bitter cold, while the icy winds sweep over the valleys and steppe, while the nomads seek the warmth of their gers and the animals struggle to survive in a brutal climate. Maybe I will return sometime in the winter, because I think that Mongolia would truly seem like northern Canada, my spiritual home.