The sun followed us for 24 hours. Its late-setting nature mimicked our shared feeling of exhausted excitement. Landing in Ulaanbataar was like a sigh of relief; we had finally arrived! It’s amazing how well you can get to know a group in a seemingly endless ride.
With that being said, we were all a little nervous to go into “real Mongolia”. The biggest test, according to Group Leader Luis, was a local market–we needed horseback riding boots.
The market was filled with hundreds of stands and thousands of locals making their weekly purchase of clothing and supplies. The outdoor market had a distinct smell most of us hadn’t ever experienced before. The Mongolian language seemed so foreign to us. The two language classes, while helpful, did not help us understand complex sentences and vocabulary, besides the common greeting, “sain oo”.
The sellers showed us boots, unaware of what we were saying, as we tried each pair on. If they were too small we tried to make hand motions and gestures to imply “one size bigger” or “smaller please”. We all, in the end, had our own riding boots! We will use these on our next adventure to Hatgal.
Sitting in the airport heading to Hatgal feels like the beginning all over again. What will Hatgal be like? Our new boots await the open expanses and pounding of horse hooves.
By Anders, Andrea, Angel, and Angelika