In March this year I traveled to Mongolia as part of the Trans Mongolian Express. An impressive country where your priorities are quickly in order. Any sense of luxury, for us so common to have everyday, soon is gone.
The first thing we let slip was hygiene. In the middle of a country four times the size of France but with only two million people, sleeping in a tent of skins, with a “mild” temperature of -10 degrees celsius inside, warmth and comfort become more important, hygiene becomes secondary . Sequentially, we lost the priorities ‘good food’ (sheep three times a day), ‘looks’ (at the same pace as the hygiene) , ‘shame’ (pooping in the desert) and ‘haste’ (it took at least six hours to get anywhere) .
The first day I had to get used to the emptiness . That surprised me, I wanted to close my eyes. In the small country that I live, the Netherlands, you can never look further away than a few kilometers. In Mongolia , there are places you can look almost a 100 kilometers far. Impossible to me. You can see the town in the distance all day but still be arriving there late in the evening.
Because of this space, the emptiness and the harsh climate you have to take care of yourself . You want to keep alive, you experience stress in a very basic way: “If our guide would leave us here, would we survive?” Something like that.
So much emptiness creates a very childish way of looking. If there is nothing to see in a distance of 200 kilometers around you, a rock in the shape of a penguin is a major attraction . I wondered, are we becoming numb, are we losing the capability of really watching? All around me are people being spoiled with images, traveling, pictures, video’s. Everyone has to know about everything: been there , done that.Where is the marvel we used to have?
The impression that Mongolia has left on me, kept me from drawing it. How to picture such a large country in a drawing? Do I get it right? We’ll see !
© Edda Grol ‘Mongolia I en II’, 2013