Day 15 – We’re So Popular

Woke up at 6:45a, but since there were no horses to ride I took a while to actually get up.  I read a bit and listened to 3 seperate mobs of sheep as they were shepherded through our camp ground.

After breakfast we had a lazy morning sitting around the camp fire – reading, napping and chatting.  As we were just hanging out we had several visitors drop by.  Two boys who live in a nearby ger brought us milk and yogurt.  We gave them chocolate and fruit cocktail in trade.  Then two ladies dropped by with more milk.  We gave them noodles.  Two guys on a motorbike stopped by and had a seat near the camp fire and they were soon joined by another neighbor.  We had a return visitor from last night and then another man rode up on his horse.

Since we’re good hosts we cooked for them (by we I mean the Mongolian guys).  Because we had enough milk to share they prepared tea – bortstea (dried meat tea).  I wrote down the recipe as it was prepared.  The first thing you have to do is make milk tea.  I don’t have the recipe for that, but I’ve got the rest.

Over high heat (like the flame of a campfire) –

  • one handful of mutton fat
  • whatever cooking oil you have on hand
  • one handful of flour
  • big spoonful of butter
  • 1 big cup of rice
  • milk tea
  • handful of salt
  • a few handfuls of dried pulverized mutton

Melt one handful of mutton fat and if you need more fat then you can add however much oil you have on hand.  Once the fat is hot add a handful of flour.  Stir viciously.  Then add butter and stir more.  Add some milk tea and stir.  Add a handful of salt and stir.  Add a few handfuls of dried pulverized mutton and stir.  Add the remainder of the milk tea and stir.  Add rice and stir.  Put the lid on and let it simmer.  Add water as needed and add more salt to taste.

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pretty sure a savory tea you eat with a spoon is really soup

This was served to all our guests, the translators, drivers and any of the riders who wanted.  I think I counted over 20 servings.  It was quite good – and heavy.

After we ate we spied more visitors.  Two small girls were very nervously approaching.  They were holding hands as they crossed the field and stream.  Turns out they were the 4 year old twin daughters of one of the herdsmen who was visiting us.  They were welcomed with chocolate.  Another guest arrived by motorcycle.  About this time I started worrying that we might run out of provisions.  One by one the guests leave.  Many of them had been with us for hours.

After lunch there was time for us to bathe in the river and then it was time to pack up camp.  Lavaa’s, brother lived somewhere between where we were currently camping and Murin, where the airport we were flying out of the next day was located, so we were headed to his ger.  He didn’t know we were coming.  We were truly traveling off road and off the map.  There were frequent stops for directions and a few u-turns, but eventually we make it.  Our van arrived just after the one Lavaa was driving, but we got there just in time to see Lavaa greet a young boy in a very heartfelt way.  It turns out his wife and youngest son are spending the summer with his brother.

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Once we’re out of the vans we enter the ger and are served milk tea and bread with clotted cream.  Then we set up our camp.  We prepare our dinner and eat and spend a few lazy hours hanging out while it rains.  We also have the opportunity to milk a yak.

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it’s really hard to milk a yak

We spend the rest of the evening playing mass in the ger and being offered what seems to be an endless supply of Mongolian vodka.  (thank goodness it’s weaker than the stuff from the store.)  We had an amazing evening and I’m feeling like I could live this life, but I’m also aware that this is not real life.

Headed to bed about 11:45p.

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