Snip bit


1) and 2) The bus ride to Arvaikheer from UB, right after leaving the bus station where I was pick pocketed. John is sleeping and the Mongolians are laughing at my pineapple hair and taking photos of us weirdos. 

3) Our janky ass Bob the Builder hammer used for pounding stakes in the ground to tether our horses to ropes during the night, amidst hail balls right after a gnarly hail storm. 

4) Sera, Mandalin, Saya, Ishtar and Alan making hoshoor (empanadas) with freshly picked garlicky stinging nettle, onions and fresh cream.

5) Nom Nom stewed stinging nettles that Mandalin and I wildharvested!


6) Soaking wet clothes drying on our tent in the first bit of sun after days of hard rains. 

7) Mandalin and I rejoicing in delicious grilled nettle hoshoor. 

8) River and I chilling after a long ride in the nearby valley, where he was incredibly naughty. Deciding to drop down and roll over all saddled up and with me on his back four times. Once, in the middle of a river we were crossing. Another time, while we were in a puddled flood plain, ejecting me and my saddlebags. But he’s so prettttyyyy though. 

9) River in the foreground, Sera and Polvo in the background. This is the river valley we rode together in during the aforementioned photo. 


10) Sera drinking some water from the stream as we took a break from our valley adventuring.

11) A delightful rest during a mild part of the afternoon in the tent. So far I’ve read a National Geographic, The Red Tent and now working on a short story compilation called The Gift of The Magi. We’re all reading and sharing books, it’s very fun. ^-^ Yay, books in readable languages! 

12) Taken earlier this morning on the way to town, after Sera and I got off of the motorcycle we hitch hiked here on, we found some yaks friends, just chillin, doin their thang. 

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Holy smokes

So much has happened since I’ve been able to make a post last. The Internet is very seldom here, let alone a wifi connection, ha! Plus, we have been so completely engrossed in the present moment, dealing with naughty horses and crazily challenging situations, that even writing a blog post has been the last thing on my mind.

Where to even begin….okay, so basically, here’s an incredibly stunted download of what we’ve been working with for the past three weeks. We got to Arvaikheer (200km west of UB), where Tamir’s nomad connection people’s picked us up in a big ole truck and took us deep into the rural steppe. This was further away from civilization than I have ever been in my life. We set up our tipi bell tent and didn’t take it down for a solid ten days. In this location, we were close to our nomad friend, named Buch, who we bought horses from and he also arranged for other nomads to bring their horses by to see if we wanted to buy them. We ended up with 13 horses. 10 personal riding horses, one for each of us, and 3 pack horses.

These ten days were some of the most trying days of my life thus far. Emotionally, mentally, physically, every way! Some things I personally dealt with during this time were my own fear of horses that I didn’t even know that I had until facing these wild horses (which was fleeting and I now feel great with them), having a saddle that just simply did not fit without major reconstructive surgery, and a raging alcoholic (whom we lived with and traveled with for another week after) who found it appropriate to personally threaten to kill me because I stated my dislike towards overt drunkenness.

I had visions of a very shanti style horse caravan, where we circle together for vegetarian meals, sing and encourage and empower each other with our horse training and riding skills, and just all around care for one another like a family. Myself and a few others were shocked to find out that this would not be the reality of this Mongolian horse caravan. Rowdy, drunken vodka nights almost every night, out right racism (from Mongolians to some of our caravaners), animals being slaughtered and cooked in the vegetarian pot, meals without circling, violent communication between caravan members, people pushing each other beyond limits and boundary testing, horses escaping, people being thrown off and badly injured, nomads pressuring us to buy horses and get out of their turf asap, saddle malfunctions, down pours of rain and none of us had remember to secure our horses AND collect enough dry dung for cooking fires, causing shortages of food, these things were all very prominent on a daily basis. In a few short words: every moment was a high pressure moment. It was indeed a shit show. There’s no sugar coating this one, folks!

*EQUIPMENT ADVICE* All western style girths are way too big. All of us needed to make girths and double girths. Some saddles don’t have connection points for a double girth, which is absolutely essential if you plan on staying on your horse, so if you’re planning to caravan, figure out how to attach a double girth. What we did was buy some seatbelt like material in the black market, also some wool belts they use as girths. The wool belts are about 2cm wide so we bought two and sewed them right next to each other and then sewed this to the seatbelt material. We put the wool side against the horses skin, and use the buckles for attaching. But the buckles that come on these Mongolian wool girth belts are absolute shit. You need to buy nicer buckles that have the little silver rolling part so it’s easier to pull the girths up to tighten. It’s recommened to do this for both front and back girths.

Packing saddles, we also made the same girths for the pack saddles. Front and back girths. Also, all of the saddles require a dick strap. Which is our official name for basically a piece of rope tying the front and back girth together to prevent the back girth from slipping down their belly towards their penises. Which believe me, makes these pleasant(ish) ponies turn into buck wild stallions! Not pretty.

Alas, somehow we finally made it out of there. Well, not somehow exactly, but with the help of Buch and his Russian military jeep. We needed to leave the land and get on our way, we knew that this wasn’t our seed camp place. So we loaded Buch’s jeep full of all of our shit, saddled up our ponies and set out on a very hot, long ride. The goal, which I completely disagreed with, was to travel 55km to set up seed camp near a town where we could have seed camp. This sounded ridiculous to me, because last year some people told me they would travel 20-25km a day. And this was our very first day! Anyways, we set out on our journey, everyone on horseback and leading our barren backed pack horses. (The pack horses were just not ready to be packed. This takes very calm horses and lots of energy into accustoms T them to these weird, scary, lumpy, annoying, alarming bags upon this backs. We had a pack horse fiasco where we lost Split Ear aka Kasha aka Cinnamon and couldn’t find him for a whole day after he got super spooked and went crazy while trying to pack him with some empty saddlebags. Choose pack horses wisely, folks!)

The ride was largely anti-climactic. Very beautiful arid landscapes, descending down steep mountains and winding through valleys. As the day wore on, we were riding directly into the blazing high elevation sun. We were continually told to pick up the pace because we needed to make it so far and we had only riden so little. The jeep was following us, meeting up with us periodically. Sera was in the jeep with our stuff and Buch because she was thrown off her horse Polvo on her first ride with him, and has something like a torn rotator cuff. After 4ish hours of non-stop riding, I realized that I was the only one without a hat and I really wasn’t doing well anymore. I wanted to take a break to rest some, but some people in the group didn’t mind that heat stroke was setting in for me and decided that traveling on was more important. Eventually, I became faint so I got off of my horse, River, and hopped in the Jeep for the duration of the ride. Needless to say, we did not make it the intended 55km. We probably made it about 30km until the sun sank into the sky and it was clear that no matter how badly some of the people wanted to reach this goal, it just wasn’t happening.

The place that we got to was incredibly luscious and beautiful! Literally a breath of fresh air. Everyone was excited to be in such a beautiful spot. The earth was a carpet of wild flowers and deliciously thick grass for our horses, mountains and interesting geological rock formations, a pure clean flowing river was right below our camp. We all wanted to stay for awhile and have our seed camp here.

That night, I went to sleep with a bad case of heat exhaustion. I was feverish and hot to the touch but shivering with chills. Nausea, dizziness, fatigue, no appetite for food or water. I woke up at 1am and vomited laboriously into the moonflowers until the sun came up, where in which I promptly fell asleep completely exhausted on my sleeping pad outside the tent.

At 7am, I was awoken and told that we were moving camp because Buch was willing to take our stuff further for us. This was completely unnecessary. We were right beside a road with semi-frequent traffic which we could get to town for a food run for, town was 20km away. We didn’t need to leave. Our horses and humans were exhausted from such a stressful and long first day of riding. I personally was very ill from the sun poisoning and there was no way I could ride, let alone sit up and have an intelligible conversation with someone. Anyways, they decided to leave and ride 25 more I’m further. Delirious off of 2 hours of sleep and a wrecked body, I dragged myself to a nice hole in some rocks and filled it with diarrhea instead of sticking around for the debate on what to do that day. Over the hours of trying to get our shit together to pile into the truck to leave, it became apparent that my condition was quickly worsening, unable to keep liquids inside of me. The sun grew higher in the sky and began scorching out whatever life I had left inside of me. I laid in the meter of shade next to the jeep and waited for everyone to pile our stuff in the jeep. Saya so sweetly volunteered to come with me, and Buch, Saya and I were off on a very cramped, bumpy 2 hour ride to the hospital.

It was the hottest part of the day and the truck ride without windows that open brought me into dehydrated hallucinations. I barely remember the ride there, all I do remember was thinking last loving thoughts to my parents and friends, and drifting in and out of consciousness where everything turns white and you melt a little deeper into dream like states. On the way, we passed a Buddhist Ovoo, a pile of stones which one walks clockwise around in contemplative prayer and leaves an offering of a stone. Buch stopped the jeep and got out and walked around the Ovoo. He told me that he prayed for me. This gesture was so pure, so kind, it brought tears to my eyes. I felt spiritually cared for, which felt just as needed as being physically cared for. Saya was by my side the entire time too, caring for me as a comforting beam of hopeful light cares for scared ones.

We arrived to this rural towns hospital, somehow made it up the stairs and pantomimed to the Mongolian nurses my symptoms. I was laid shivering on an examination table, using some random person jacket as a pillow while four or five nurses swarmed around discussing treatments. My body was burning up even though I was wrapped in sweaters and a ski coat, three pairs of leggings and tall boots, and incredible cold, my whole body tremoring and chattering. They moved me to a room with two beds. An elderly Mongolian woman is the other bed peeped up to watch as they brought in this grave looking incredibly dirty foreigner. (I hadn’t seen a shower in weeks since UB, haha!) They piled blankets upon filthy dirty blankets upon me, Saya brought my sleeping bag. I tried to ask what they were going to do but before any real concise communication could be had, an IV was already in my hand and I was fast asleep. They woke me up to change my IV bag and pump some more liters of fluids and who knows what else into me. Finally a few hours later, they removed my IV and let me rest while I came to my senses. My body felt so much more hydrated, although I was incredibly disoriented. Saya was there and we went to a “hotel” together. This hotel didn’t even have a place to wash ones hands, and the toilet was the most filthy hole in the earth I had ever seen. You would have thought that Mongolians only eat explosives by the way this shitter looked. Through the night I developed a high fever and Saya nursed me back to health with bread, pickles, apple juice and crackers. Saya is an angel, I don’t even know how to repay her for her kindness. Yasashi!!!

The next day, although very weak, I was tons and tons and tons better. Buch picked us up and we went to a Mongolian family’s ger where the group had crashed for the night. Apparently they weren’t able to make it the 25 km that day either and were left wandering aimlessly in the darkness until these nomads took them in at midnight and served them some hot food, laid all 8 of them on the group and threw a big rug over them. Buch didn’t know where they were and he had all their belongings in the jeep so they had nothing. Sera, somehow didn’t even have a pair of pants, haha!

Anyways, we found a spot about 10km away from that town and we have been here ever since. About 10 days now I think since we’ve been here. So much healing has happened here, so much horse training. Our pack horses are underway, we’re going on individual journeys to various location, giving our horses plenty of exercise combined with rest and training. Marshall, John and Ishtars horses all have various levels of wounds from riding for three days straight. Johns is the most serious. Grandpa (his horse) has a large abscess on his spine where the saddle doesn’t fit him properly, also chased from bouncing while trotting. The wound has opened and has been spilling pus. He’s doing our best to keep it clean and using the sound spray. Indre, Ishtar and I packed it with a tumeric poultice to help draw infection out and reduce inflammation, then the three of us stood around Grandpa and gave him a session of Reiki. I’m praying for a speedy recovery.

Ishtar, Indre and Alan have taken to themselves to go on a 50km away journey to the lakes. Our group has talked about splitting up, since it seems that some want to go on long, hard rides, working the horses and covering much landscape and some want to go much slower, moving less frequently and having a more relaxed pace journey. At this point, we don’t have plans of splitting up, and we plan to meet up with the other 3 soon. For now, we’re left with the pack horses and all of the groups equipment to figure out how to make it all become a movable unit. I’ve been enjoying my days more and more now that there isn’t so much pressure to move move move!

This is seed camp. We’re all learning so much. Enduring so much. Being strengthened through the challenges. At moments, I question myself, we all do, and why we’re putting ourselves through such a rigorous mission. In other moments, I look to the setting sun, blazing the indigos together with the oranges, with the waxing gibbous moon hanging delicately above the blue gray gradient of distant misty like mountains,…with our horses grazing on tall grasses in the foreground and I remember why it is worth it.

xoxoxo
Umi and River

Death on the Steppe

A single cloaked shepard upon horseback, herding throngs of sheep. The only human I’ve seen for hundreds of miles. Dusty, shrubby green plains sloping up into dune-like hills on the horizon are the backdrop to this life. A single Mongolian yurt, a ger, standing alone looking so full of solitude and permanence that it is hard to believe that the small family within will pick up and move when winter comes shaking the green from the pastures. Their presence having been like a tumbleweed on the steppe.

There are animals that have sat down mid-step and decided that this will be the place to rest their bones for eternity. Cows, sheep, goats, horses all find their place in the soil when they have finished roaming the lands and are readied to roam the skies. Their skins, taut and strewn across their bones in elegantly raw heaps, becoming like a drum. A hollowness lives inside their emptied ribs, it speaks of deaths wisdom. It says, “Creatures of the earth, there is no need to fear death. For, death is an ancient friend whom you will meet along the road between hither and yon, who comes to teach you of a healing stillness. A stillness that coaxes everyone back to the soil, to lay, to listen, to disintegrate into the peace.”

Here, the deathing is casual, like waking up from a nap. Here, the creatures wander until they’re tired. They follow their friend into the stillness, gently strolling and the world spins madly on, neither life nor death pausing for a mere moment to look over its shoulder to see where the other went.

A few days ago, after a horrific bus ride filled with violent, vomiting drunk men, from the eastern countryside back to Ulaan Baatar, I checked the Internet in town and read an e-telegraph saying that my grandmother had just died. I ran out of the shop and called my mother immediately.

The familiar but shaking voice of my mother told me that my grandmother had just been chatting with my cousins, watching baseball. She even got up for a moment and danced with her daughters, allowed a smile to find its way to her lips. My mother says she began relaxing so deeply that the wrinkles in her face smoothed. She woke up from a slumber and asked if she were floating. The friend must have been coming to play with her. She has been waiting for him, ever since my grandfather died and sent whispered instructions in the wind beneath an egrets wing. “Trust the friend, he’s a great travel companion—and he knows just how to find me.” My grandfather must have said, because when the friend arrived, they set out perfectly on time.

First two weeks

We’ve been in Mongolia for two weeks now. This right here is a clusterfucked bramble of feels, thoughts and experiences.

The first week was full of hardcore adulting. And I mean hardcore, man. Sera, Mandalin, Marshall and I spent the beginning days in Narantuul Tsak, The Black Market wandering every corridor of every dusty, lougie-lined alley. It felt adventurous, exciting, bartering prices for Mongolian dels, camel and yak wool socks, and boots. Shortly after Ishtar, Indrė, Alan and John arrived to us, we spent more days winding through the horse section of the market, having wool saddle pads made, bridles, and negotiating for beautifully colorful woven reins, halters, lead rope and supplies to make sturdy, soft woolen girths.

After we collected all of our gear, we decided to go scope out the horses in the countryside. Our Mongolian friend, Ganji, had arranged for us to go to her parents restaurant 200km east of UB to help her family plant 4,000 trees to keep Mongolia green, and then to travel to where the nomads are to see their horses.

The night before we set out east, Indrė, who had been staying with her friend Tamir, told us that we could get very cheap good horses through Tamir’s connections with nomads 400km west of UB. We figured it’d be best to have multiple options, so Ishtar and Indrė headed west while we went east to plant trees with Ganji’s family.

We arrived to Ganji’s parents restaurant at 4 o’clock in the morning, slept in comfy dining booths and awoke at noon to start planting trees.

I stumbled out of bed in a groggy daze and immediately saw friends peeling scraps of meat off plates of bones boiled to make bone soup. For some reason, it was the straw that broke this camels back.

The week leading us to this point, I had been in total food shock…going from Maui, Hawaii where there are cornucopias of fresh produce and vegetarian and vegan fare galore…to being in the land of Mongolian meat and dairy, where in normal markets, one must traverse rows of executed creatures, dangling from hooks, entrails spilling out, dripping blood right next to tables of hungry market goers slurping up grissely chunks of those very same animals.

Waking up to this bone picking scene ripped out my composure and filled the hole with nausea, which has managed to stay with me this far. It’s getting better though, everyday I feel less and less shocked into sickness.

We planted 4,000 trees and it took damn near all day! It was fun and I’m so glad we got to be a part of keeping Mongolia green.

That night we talked with Ishtar and Indrė and after a lot of talking and examine the topographical maps, we decided that the most beautiful route would be to go west to where they are to buy horses and have our seed camp. This put us in quite the predicament. We had to let our friend down, and the nomads that helped round up their horses to potentially sell to us.

The next morning when we awoke, Mandalin and I went up to tell Ganji what we have decided. We knew that it stung her and because of this, it stung us too. Ganji has been a really sweet friend, really very quickly. A very casual presence, sharing mutually our curiosity for one another and an incredibly helpful bridge between Mongolia and our foreignness. She decided that it wouldn’t be okay for her reputation in the small family town for her to let down the nomads, so she found the best solution would be for us all to go to the nomads where the horses were being kept and tell them that we don’t want to buy them. We were willing to do almost anything to make sure that our decision to not buy horses there did not impact Ganji negatively as much as possible, so of course we loaded up in her brothers van for a beautiful, bumpy ride through the steppe to the nomads.

When we arrived, we realized how much they had gone out of their way to tie up horses for us to look at. They were all tied up on a line. 15 horses. They were all pretty skinny, some almost emaciated. We expected this, since winter just ended. They were also much more wild than any other horses I’ve ever been close to. As soon as we walked closer, they would turn quickly to present their hind to us, ready to kick without warning if we got too close. We were invited inside the ger, offered milk tea and Ganji translated to the nomads our disappointing news that we wouldn’t be buying horses from them. We felt so badly and offered them some togrog as compensation for the work he put in for us, then quickly scurried along to catch our bus back to UB.

On an unrelated note, people have been reacting to us with both curiosity and disgust. A man on a bus squished in next to me touched my nose 2 seconds after I sat down, wondering why I have a ring in it. Alan has some lip rings and a septum piercing, and apparently septum rings here in Mongolia are used solely for calfs, to prevent them from suckling on their mothers teets. When Alan spent time with the nomads, the little boy exclaimed to his mother that Alan must have trouble controlling himself from sucking on his mothers teets. I rather enjoy this explanation. It appears that the Mongolian people find dreadlocks the most perplexing and atrocious hairstyle ever, pulling and touching them secretly from behind us on the bus, making twisty faces, pretending not to be looking at us when we turn and smile to them.

I have realized that the not smiling bit isn’t a personal offense, rather it is a part of their culture. I asked Ganji, “How come no one ever smiles back at me?” Ganji said, “Why would they smile at you? They don’t know you. They have no reason to smile at you. If they know you, then they would smile at you.”

True Airspeed: 523 mph

True Airspeed: 523 mph
Distance to Beijing: 1,588 miles
Remaining Flight Time: 4 hours and 4 minutes

Half asleep, with legs stiffly accordioned up into myself, in clouds of other people’s dreams, I could almost forget that today is the day. The steady whir of jet engines and a Chinese woman emptying her stomach in the bathroom remind me exactly where I am. Ah, we have embarked.

This morning when I woke up, the first thing I did was crack open a fortune cookie I had been saving, having had a feeling that it’s all foreboding message would be one that I wanted to preserve until this day. It broke in two perfect pieces, like a sugary wishbone where everyone wins. I consumed them, partially believing in the superstition that if you don’t eat the cookie first, the fortunes never going to come true. I sat upon the floor of my emptied room at The Chicken Shack, pretending to myself that this cookie is not stale, and feeling the rustling of wings as they unfurl from my soul, as they do without fail in many a times like these.

“All your hard work will soon pay off.”

Trails of tangible understanding spill off cliffs in my mind. All of a sudden, one chapter of life bleeds into the next without a moments notice. So smoothly, so gracefully that I know it’s divine. All the “hard work” hasn’t been so much hard, neither has it been much like work. We’ve been so enmeshed with it. But apparently, it’s all about to surmount to something grand…both intuition and fortune cookie said so!

By magic, in this precise moment, Mandalin bounds in the open door and stares me in the face with wonder. Feeling so grateful to have a companion with me at this feast of smiles. Oh Great Mystery, you’re so thoughtful with how you plan these golden synchronicities sometimes…

The time rolls around, we gather all of our accoutrements into a great big, epic pile of shit outside the house. Robert, my real good friend, uncle, and owner of The Chicken Shack is there with us, helping us load this epic pile into the back of his truck. The resident bambi of the Shack, Baby Dear helped too. Soon enough we’re flying down the Hana Highway at dusk and the sky is dripping violet and periwinkle in the most artful goodbye present Maui could have given us. Marshall and I are sitting shotgun, giving each other the “Holy shit….Maui no ka oi….” look. (Maui is the best!)

We part ways with Robert at the airport, send him with love and up rolls our other Chicken Shack brothers to see us off, Seth and Kayah! We all play rowdy-like at the check in gate for one last big dose of booooyahhhh.

We fly like American Eagles (LOL) past the TSA officer model with the booty you could bounce a basketball on, right through security, right through Honolulu International Airport, and swiftly, in a matter of hours, the Eagles shall be landed. In Beijing, at least.

 

Obviously, this was written almost two weeks ago. We’re in Mongolia now and I have so many stories to tell. Soon they will trickle in.

The List of Gear

This is simply a compiled list of the gear that we are *bringing* to Mongolia. Some other horse-related gear, like pack saddles for the packing horses, etc. will be bought in the Black Market in Ulaan Baator upon arrival.

 

Tribe Gear:
Bell tent ((( https://www.obelink.de/sahara-500.html ~ this is the one we bought)))
(((a smaller one, for depending on how many people can confirm, this could be a good option too: https://www.obelink.de/sahara-safari-400.html)))
Extra stakes for the bell tent (can order together from the distributor)
-1 or 2 super lightweight collapsible handsaws
-Efficient battery life handheld GPS or GPS app on smartphones
-1 or 2 solar charging packs
Topographical maps: Topographical Maps
(((“Ok so for maps here is a place to get them online. Make sure you get the 1/500000 version as the 1/250 is very old data”.)))
A couple compasses
-Four 20Liter/5gallon heavy duty water bags: Swiss Water Bags
-A couple rounds of antibiotics
-Big bottle of Grapefruit Seed Extract
Activated charcoal
-Essential oils that would be helpful for humans and horses like tea tree oil, lavender oil, peppermint oil, any others that call to you
-Big bulk bags of spices (((last year said they don’t have many in Mongolia and they were glad they brought some)))
Paracord
-A hoof knife or two (they don’t have them in Mongolia)
-A rasp (aka, a big file for the hooves, one side for metal and one side for wood) ~ Ishtar
Silver spray: for protecting wounds from getting bigger Silver Spray; we will need four 200ml bottles
Wound spray: for helping wounds heal; Spurr’s Big Fix Wound Spray
-1liter of fly spray

Individual Gear:
Recommended from last years group: Each person only have around 10 Kilos of personal items. If we can all have around 10kilos, we can fit about 8 kilos in our riding horses saddlebags, and the remaining 2 kilos may be our sleeping gear, which they said we can all pile onto one pack horse. Have another pack horse for our bell tent and kitchen gear. Another for food. Another for water. (And maaaybe another one for musical instruments?)

Saddle: western style, size 14 or 15 (that’s inches length-wise), round skirt, made of synthetic material (leather is much too heavy says last year, it should be less than or equal to 20lbs), with stirrups. It’d be best for it to have a place where saddle bags can be attached.
Saddlebags: can be made in Mongolia for around ~$25, the saddlebags for the packing horse can be made by the same woman for $100 per set. These may also be bought online if you see ones that look good sized/waterproof/durable/not made of leather.
Good quality 0 Celsius/-15 Farenheit sleeping bag
Silk liner for sleeping bag (adds 10/20 extra degrees of warmth)
Sleeping pad, thermarest style is great
Headlamp
Water filtration system (we can share but should have multiples) (((sawyer squeeze or sawyer original have a high amount of liters able to be filtered before replacing, check how many liters a filter is good for when considering buying)))
Vitamins/medicines if that calls to your personal needs
Dry sacks or heavy duty plastic Ziploc bags, for clothes and personal stuff. (Since the riding saddlebags won’t be truly waterproof.)

It’s a process that I trust

Our group is really beginning to solidify. Like a dozen eggs in a pot of boiling water, with time and togetherness we will have a solid core. It’s a process that I trust. For now, we’re lusciously soft boiled.

The fantasies, the long-winded communicating through smart phones, the challenges, the jump-up-and-down-in-the-library-on-the-public-computers moments….they all seem to be actually adding up to something.

Our biggest challenges right now are these:
1. Should we keep our group capped at 12 people?

The process and the progress:
1. We (Ishtar and I, being the first committed caravaners) initially decided that a group cap would be a good idea. 12 sounded manageable. Practical. Safe. Intimate. From there, I skyped with potential caravaners and filled them in on the nittygritty, (….Which at that point was just, “I DONT KNOW WHAT WE’RE DOING BUT IT’S GUNNA BE TUFF, YOU DOWN?”) Now, we’ve had two or three people flounder out and a flood of messages float right on in from people who want to join the Caravan. Once we were at 12 solid, I started letting people know we were full. Until One Late Night. (Always exciting, always game-changers.) Marshall, Mandalin and I were chillin’ in the kitchen, when Marshall expressed that he felt really truly terrible about turning any willing-and-able brother or sister away for any reason. Aren’t we, in part, doing this to inspire? No need to break hearts and shatter dreams here. Plus, when has more never been merrier? So, the debate began! And our caravaners have really proved to have some differing opinions…some want it to be capped at 20, some will just leave the group if too many come, some don’t want others to just float right in after we’ve put in such tedious hard work, some think a traveling shit show bedouin circus of 200 would be the best. Simply put, this subject has us divided more than any other thus far.
Like I said,
We’re soft boiled.

But it’s luscious! Our differing opinions swoon me soooo deeply. It’s so gorgeous when 12 people debate something ardently in different directions, all out of their passion for the experience. It’s so clear. I have to confess it….even though it hasn’t manifested yet: We’re in love with the Mongolia Horse Caravan. Each one of us, in our own heart-felt way.

One more month until we meet in Ulaan Baatar.
One more month.