Does Rick’s genius know any bounds ...?
…today he was snoring in time with the rhythmic monotony of the train click-clacking the miles and hours away. Uncanny...
The sleeper carriage we are traveling in is pure luxury compared to the jangling roads we have bounced on to-and-from Tosontsengel.
We are short of our translator, who did not book his ticket in time and has effectively hamstrung our effectiveness in the field until he catches up; Rick is not happy.
However, Gobi Project Officer Oyuna is with us, and has at least completed the PDC with us last week, so that hopefully once we can communicate [in broken English / Mongolian / Mime] a concept to her [that she now has a base in], she can go on to explain to Co-Operative Members. Hopefully.
We make friends with our sleeper-carriage-mate, a Mongolian woman who shares her ryebread and sausage with us for lunch. I throw a slab of my 10,000MNT cheese in to the mix, Kat throws her bag of dried curds on the table, and we have a happy picnic on our hands!
The landscape keeps rolling past our window, and we spot Wild Rhubarb amongst the new species of grasses, shrubs, and the occasional lone tree. Different soil types and weather patterns here, flattening out to meandering dune-hills there, as the horizon opens up to endless Mongolian skyscapes stretching above.
Meanwhile, carriages laden with coal or ore stretch lazily on the tracks, waiting to be taken far away to to China and Russia for processing.
Seven hours later, we pull into our stop and have exactly 120 seconds to unload the dozen bags and boxes we have lugged with us, full of notebooks and pens and reflective foil and flipcharts and coloured pens and folded-up solar ovens and scotch tape and other supporting materials for the trainings.
It is cold and the wind whips fine sand in our faces, and howls lowly outside the window when we get settled into our bunker of a hotel at midnight.
Welcome to summer in The Gobi.