sheep and goats…

On the second day of the hunt, I was the last to get out of bed.  It seems that everyone on this expedition is a morning person.  The sounds and smells from the kitchen helped to stir me awake.  I could hear the fire getting stoked to life and then the pot of chai mixed and then the metal pot placed onto the iron surface.  After a few minutes I could hear hushed whispers, the washing of hands and faces, and then the slurping of tea.  It was nice to get slowly awakened rather than the normal jolt of the alarm clock.  However, even though I was awake, I didn’t want to get out of bed.  It was very cold.  But slowly, I did sit upright put my wool cap on, and slowly got dressed.  Once I gotten up, the sound of movement from my room was the signal to the rest that it was now safe to carry on with regular voices.  Within a few minutes Dalaihan’s sister-in-law came in to bring me some chai and Baatar started cooking our breakfast.

When I finally did get out of bed it wasn’t easy.  I felt as though I had been hit by a truck.  It seemed that every muscle in my feet, calves, legs, back, arms and shoulders had been through a marathon workout.  It wasn’t the “regular” muscles that you normally hit in the gym like the quads, glutes, pecs, or back muscles.  Instead, it was all of the irregular muscles; I felt great soreness on the inside of my thighs, down the inside of my calves, my feet were sore on the outside (probably muscle and soreness from the stirrups), and muscles in my back were sore between the shoulder blades and the small of my back.  Certainly a week or two of horseback riding would fix this problem.

After breakfast, I made my way outside.  One of the yaks was standing near the goat pen.  I wasn’t sure what a yak sounded like so I made my best impersonation of a buck (deer) call.  He did answer and then seemed to be confused and then ran away.  The boys got a good laugh out of it.

 

 

While Aplamys was fetching the horses, I took a chance to examine the goat and sheep pen.  I had never really studied goats and sheep up close.  The first thing I noticed was that they all stared at me.  Was it that they recognized me as a stranger to the lodge?  Or did they look like this at everyone?  I wondered, “What they were thinking?”  Were they thinking anything at all?  They all had the same blank look like they were expecting me to tell them something.  And then I looked close at the goats’ eyes.  What’s up with that?  Now I see why Satan was given goat features in medieval times; those eyes surely look like something out of a science fiction vampire or werewolf movie.

Later, when Baatar and Dalaihan and the rest of the men came over with the horses, the men chatted about the flock.  I noticed that as Dalaihan and his son approached, all of the goats and sheep moved away from the entrance of the stable.  I wondered if they knew that they were “next in line” for dinner?  Right then, I could almost see the Gary Larson “Far Side” cartoon quotation under the photo as one sheep said to the rest, “Hey, everyone stare at Jerry, maybe Dalaihan will choose him next.”


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back at the hunting lodge

When we got back to the hunting lodge, it was nice to take the boots off and wash with some warm water.  It was not until I sat down on my stool by the dining room table that I realized how sore my back side was.  Horse riding is a workout and it works muscles that just don’t ever get used during other activities.  And, the seat itself was a bit sore as it had constant contact for the whole day.

We broke open some beers and soon enough, out came the vodka.  I had my “obligatory” shot and then stuck to the beer.  I’m really developing a disdain for vodka.  Khashy brought out hot chai (always served with goat or horse milk) and I realized that I was starting to develop a taste for the chai.  It was not as strong as most tea I’ve had and it was unsweetened.  It sort of tasted like weak tea mixed with goat milk; it is certainly somewhat of an acquired taste.

After a while, Khashy served a delicious meal of goat, potato, carrot, and some other vegetables.  The Kazakh meals are heavy in oil and were rich and filling.  With the cold weather, your body uses a lot more energy and I ate everything that I could.

Following dinner, Alpamys took out his dombra and played some traditional Kazakh songs.

The light in the room was powered by a 12 volt car battery that was powered during the day by a solar panel.  All energy used in this home was either collected in the sun, or brought in the form of small AA batteries.  The home was heated by horse and yak dung.  I always wondered what burning dung smelled like and I was surprised to find out that it is odorless.

Alpamys played wonderfully.  The boys crowded into the room with the men but the women never crossed the threshold.  They stayed in the kitchen or just into the doorway; the sexes were clearly segregated  in this traditional Kazakh household.

Alpamys played wonderfully.  Everyone listened in and on some of the more traditional songs, everyone (except Baatar and I) joined in and sung along.  It was a nice break from television and Nintendo.  Because the light from the 12 volt flourescent light did not provide ample light for video, I asked Alpamys to play his dombra for me in the morning so that I could share it with you:

 


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