This is the last of my Gobi Desert notebook posts, and the last post from the Great Railway Adventure. I thought we’d end on a high note. I could have had a summary post about the last days in Ulaan Baatar, but I’d really like to leave you with this little anecdote, so enjoy!
From September 27, 2012
“My last post was pretty dramatic and harrowing, so let’s follow it with a good old poo story. I
‘ll have to poo, I know. I just can’t go for four days, eating nothing but strange meats, stranger dairy products, and green tea, and not poo.
I know I can poo outside. I’ve been camping, I’ve shat in the woods. I just don’t like it. And even in the woods there are…woods. I can find a nice thick tree with some bushy coverage to tuck up against. But not here, in the wide open steppes. Here you wander away from the Ger, dig a little hole, and make your offering to Mother Nature. In delightfully full view of anything within miles that chances to look your way. Glorious. Keep in mind, that if something goes wrong there are no showers, and I only brought one pair of pants- the pair I am currently wearing.
So I think strategy. I know it isn’t happening during the day, with the immediate and extended family coming and going all the time. But at night there are the dogs, awake and alert to protect the herd animals from the things out there in the dark. And based on last nights stream of barking…there are plenty of things out there in the dark. If I get far enough away from the tents for my own sanity, will the dogs remember me? Or will I get bowled over by a big Mongolian wolf-dog when he catches an unfamiliar whiff of me? They’ve seemed pretty friendly so far, one even came up to be pet, and the Mongolians believe that dogs with eyebrows have four eyes: two for physical sight and two for seeing auras and energy. Hopefully they’ve all seen my happy rosie glow…and hopefully I glow in the dark.
I decide to risk the dogs. So last night, with all the family huddled around the (solar charged) TV, I take my chance.
I even find a nice flat rock to dig my hole with. I dig, I squat, I contemplate aiming techniques, when suddenly “BARK!”
“BARK BARK GRRR!!!”
One, two, then three dogs start barking and running across the field.
“God Damn it!” I turn on my flash light and stand up. “It’s just me!” I say. But they aren’t barking at me, they are barking past me. And one dog, the one I pet earlier, is standing just a few feet away. Is he guarding me? I wonder. From what?!
Well, the moment is gone. I’ll not be pooing now. So I sigh, abandon my hole, and head back to the family. My protector follows me back, but not before taking a good long sniff at my pee puddle. Well, at least I’ve gotten well acquainted with one member of this nomadic family, I laugh. Better luck next time, I tell my grumbling intestines.”