Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mongolia's Resource Curse

This video comes from The Guardian, via Axel at Birding Mongolia.

When I did make it to the cities, I was surprised by the sheer number of people connected with the mining industry at the ex-pat haunts. There is no escaping its influence.

The Gobi is one of those places that is spectacular in its desolation. I spent some time on the fringe of the desert at the Ikh Nart nature reserve, but also went to visit the camel herders in the deep desert. While I enjoyed riding horses, there is something that I found delightful about riding Bactrian camels. A mighty sandstorm kicked up a few days when I was there - battering the gers and leaving the sky in a red haze. The Flaming Cliffs, of Roy Chapman Andrews fame, transported me to the Red Planet. The endless dunes took me to Arrakis (trying to run without a rhythm in sand is hard!). Very different from the Altai where I made my home.

Woman on camelback pausing before going to retrieve the grazing camels
Bactrian camels in the corral
The wind shifting the dunes
A camel skeleton in the sand
 On another note, I heard yesterday that the Peace Corps is pulling out of Kazakhstan. There is no offical statement yet, but the volunteers on the ground confirm it. Celia over at the Dumpling Cart has more. It is terribly unfortunate. The friendship and support of Peace Corps volunteers made all the difference to me in Mongolia. It will be shame to not have that network when I head to Kazakhstan next fall. While I suspect it is from a myriad of underlying issues, there have also been a string of strange terror incidents in Kazakhstan. I'm bewildered more than anything.

Update: While on the subject of Peace Corps volunteers, here is an excellent article by a former volunteer on failure. I can identify with what she says, and can see her experiences reflected in the experiences of my Peace Corps friends in Bayan-Olgii.


Celia said...

Thanks for linking over, Lauren! I'm following your blog now :-)

Lauren McGough said...

No problem Celia - I'm glad I found your blog!