Best… Ger… EVER
This is the view from the best ger ever, a herd of horses passing by, untrimmed manes trailing in the breeze. It is, in fact, the classic Mongolian ger.
And this is the ger itself, complete with truck. Like most larger vehicles in rural Mongolia, it seems to be more for the chaps to tinker with than for anyone actually to drive. Eventually, someone will pass through who can fix it. In the meantime, it’s a talking point.
This little guy’s truck does work, however. His hair won’t be cut until he’s safely through early childhood, in a grand ceremony around the age Western children enter nursery or kindergarten. As young children’s toys and clothes are entirely gender-neutral, I only learn his sex when he drops his pants to pee.
Non-truck possessions that aren’t stored in the keepsake chest are slotted into the roof poles, or the trellis frame. The cables? They’re for the solar panel.
This is the view that the family wake up to, every day, throughout the summer pasture season. Like most Mongolian gers, the door faces south.
We hand out a tonne of sweets as gifts. But nothing lives up to Baatar’s chocolate spread. And, yes, that spoon did go straight back in the jar. And, no, nobody cared.
I loved this little guy. He’s eight. He played so sensitively and kindly with the two little kids. He’s wearing surgical boots – polio, I wonder? – but no one treats him differently.
These guys are thirteen, and twins. Slightly older than Zac, and already full-fledged cowboys, herding sheep, goats, but mainly horses: typically, the sheep and goats are left for younger kids to chase.
This little tyke is off for a wander, which is what rural Mongolian toddlers do. They (sometimes) cry when they fall over. They occasionally holler when they stray too far from the ger. But I’ve never, ever seen a Mongolian toddler have a tantrum.
One of the mums has been washing in the ger today, boiling great basins of water over the stove — a thankless, not to say Sisyphean, task. The patriarch? He’s been cutting wood with a power saw, syphoning petrol from the truck, and napping.
Zac shows the little kids how to make paper aeroplanes and flies them. They go down pretty well, not that, in all honesty, the family has paper to waste.
It is, in short, an absolutely splendid ger.
We set up camp late. But once I get a fire built and lit, I feel like Bear Grylls — at least until I burn the toasting sticks Zac’s spent the last half hour whittling…