Saturday, April 25, 2009
Where a Yurt is Not a Yurt
When most people hear the word "yurt", what place do they think of? Mongolia, of course. Quite unexpectedly, however, in Mongolia, these nomadic homes are referred to as "gar" - which, when pronounced, rhymes with "care" rather than "car" as expected.
Mongolia is vast, sparsely populated outside the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, and highly unpredictable.
Last Saturday was a warm gorgeous day, and I was anxious for some exercise. Just before setting off on a long hike, I snapped the top picture from the door of the gar where I would be spending the night. The next morning as I woke in my toasty gar, kept warm by a small stove that was stoked throughout the night by the evening watchman, I stared in disbelief at what appeared to be snow falling through small openings in the top of the structure. When I stepped outside, the scene in the bottom image greeted me. More snow had fallen that spring night than had fallen throughout most of the winter months.
According to a Mongolian colleague, when a person's temperament is volatile or erratic, they are said to be like "weather in the spring". How apropos!