Friday 5th August was our last full day in the camp. Eleanor woke up, took a bit of water, and then promptly brought it back up again. All the kids at one point during our stay had upset stomachs.
Sadly there was no fried dough for breakfast, only bread that whilst supposedly fresh was stale. I had a breakfast bar. Eleanor went back to sleep, I was able to wake her up for permission to go on the penultimate ride.
All changed ready for a 2 hour ride, this time we went to the east. On the first night’s ride we had been searching for another herdsman’s phone and today we were searching for our herdsman’s lost horse. We weren’t able to find the lost horse or phone … but we did find dinner…
The herdsman went of to talk to the goat owner and he pointed to a small black goat. Khulan informed me (quietly) that that was dinner. I suppose only small, because after all we weren’t feeling the entire group, what with there being 4 vegetarians amongst us.
We then went off galloping across the valley. It was fantastic and any videos or pictures Khulan took, I have a grin. On our last day, my legs became used to the riding. I wasn’t sore anymore. Finally, PW17 has learnt to plod, and be happy at the back rather than vying for the front position.
PW17 is the name for my horse. Well, my name for my steed. In Mongolia they don’t name their horses, I suppose in times gone by (and probably still) once horses have ceased being useful in life, they go to the cooking pot. No need to get too sentimental by giving them a name. PW17, was the mark on my saddle.
By the time we came back from our ride, Eleanor had slept a lot, ate some bread for lunch and was looking forward to the goat for dinner.
During the afternoon, the herdsman and daughter went off on the motorbike, and returned with the dead goat. He took it to the back of the ger and began skinning it.
A man’s job. The females cook it. Skinned, the meat was removed and whilst writing the diary, the meat was hung for a couple of hours before being cooked. Whilst the meat was being prepared, the Mum prepared the cheese. The children and I cut the cheese with a thread and then once laid out on a wooden board, was placed on top of the ger to dry. A piece was offered, it was very salty.
The goat was the cut into single ribs and the shoulder and whilst it was cooking we went for a our final ride. Through the river and this time we headed west. There is no warm up for the horses, and we immediately galloped. However, during our second gallop, Astrid’s stirrup broke, with the metal footpiece (the bit your foot rests on) just came away. A great piece of riding as Astrid stayed on! Earlier in the week we had another near miss, when the herdsman’s saddlebag filled with bottles of water flew off – at speed. Thankfully it just missed me, but from then on, we didn’t ride with water! Then, as we went further on, I noticed that Astrid’s girth had come undone. Thankfully we made it home without further incident. On the ride tonight we went searching for some lost sheep with red markings, but no such luck.
On returning home, the goat was served. The shoulder was shared amongst the meat eaters. Forks were not necessary, but a penknife certainly was.
I asked why we had not eaten one of our host’s goats, the response was that our hosts wanted to grow his goat population!
After devouring the goat, marshmallows were toasted and then we tried our hand at Yak milking. Eleanor wasn’t as dextrous with the yak as she had been with the goat, but I did well…or so I thought – the speed of the elder son and daughter was phenomenal.
Our last evening was rounded off by playing football.
**Our camp has been very much a port of call for many of the neighbours “just passing”, the nearest town is 20kms away, which is where our family go in the winter. Today’s visitor appeared in a Russian 4×4. When he went to leave, it wouldn’t start. Out came the handcrank and hey presto the engine roared (well almost) into life.
The day before, 2 horsemen stopped. With no guide in sight Khulan translated for them. They were Canadian, had been staying near the waterfalls, and then had bought two horses and saddles and were travelling across Mongolia for the next two weeks on their own. They were hoping to get the nearest town by nightfall. The horses had cost 2800 Euros, and at the end of their journey they were going to sell them on. At 3pm they stopped with us, and at 6pm they left. Khulan was doubtful whether they would do 20km on horseback before 10.30/11pm. Of course we will never know whether they did or not, or whether they sold their horses in the end.