Saturday, July 25, 2009

Remembering Mongolia

Hiking is a favorite sport of mine and I did a lot of it in Mongolia during my nearly two years there. Most weekends were spent in the hills around Ulanbataar -- in the summer (a few days in July) walking in the meadows with thousands of wildflowers -- in the fall -- among the yellow-leafed birches and -- in winter -- dressing for temperatures down around minus 20 or 25. This photo was taken on January 9, 2005, in the hills above a Children's Retreat -- a ways outside UB.

The photo below was taken a few days later at what was, at the time, one of the only dairies in Mongolia. It was operated by two New Zealanders and several Mongolian families -- including the family of this little girl. It was relatively warm that day -- about minus 20. The whole family in their Ger -- the frame consists of wooden poles and posts, usually a plank floor, canvas as the protective covering and a small stove. The family used animal dung as fuel.The Steppe. This is the main road from Ulanbataar, the capital, to Khentii, an eastern aimag (province) and the ancestral home of Chinggis Khan. This was snapped in 2004.Khovsgul is located about 900 kilometers west of Ulanbataar and has a huge fresh water lake that freezes over in the winter time. Trucks use it as a short cut during the long winter months, ocassionally a vehicle breaks through the ice. The gentleman in the photo below lives in a Ger in Khovsgul and was about 90 years old. He writes poetry and is also an inventor.

Downtown Maubisse

This photo was snapped on July 18 after the fog had started to roll in. A few thousand people live here with the Maubisse market being the biggest attraction.
It takes about 2 to 2.5 hours to get here from Dili. These days the road is rough and even if you are not prone to motion-sickness, you may get car sick from the seemingly endless zigs and zags.
I love the juxaposition of the chilis and lemons at one sellers' spot at the Maubisse market.


I had viewed cats from afar, until I moved to Timor-Leste. I inherited three cats upon my arrival. A tabby called Maria, a big yellow male named Tony and an older calico, named Mama Kat, that has had a zillion kittens in her day.
Mama Kat had six kittens in May, but four fell through the ceiling and died and one just disappeared. Now, she has one. We're calling the kitten Rosa for now.

Maria is spooked easily, she is always watching -- when Mama Kat comes near -- she growls -- aggressively. Mama Kat just gives her a "look" and moves on -- occasionally, Mama Kat chases her away. Most times, though, it's just growling.
Tony, the big yellow cat, is something of a diplomat. Being a male, he travels in both circles and gets along with both Maria and Mama Kat. He's the healthiest eater of them all -- although, little Rosa comes in a close second. She's no longer nursing and usually eats in the bowl with Tony. Rosa also plays with Tony a lot -- whereas -- Mama Kat just seems really tired.

Maria is now pregnant and will have kittens soon. She has become more friendly and never misses a meal anymore. She used to skip dinner. Now that she's eating for herself and "others" she's a regular on the back porch.
None of the vets here in Timor can spay or neuter -- so there's not much to be done to keep these cats from multiplying.

They're calling me. It's time for dinner!