forty days. forty stories.
by Rick Green
Once upon a time in 2002 I was looking for companions for a trip across Mongolia by water. What Mongolia-water? Mongolia home of the Gobi desert, Bactrian camels,and barren wastes? Yes duckies but also the watershed of Asia with rivers running east and north to Siberia thence to the Arctic, west to Kazakhstsan, and south to disappear into the burning Gobi.
Doug came to mind. Flinty of gaze and jaunty of manner well equipped (so to speak) for far flung expeditions. He always carried that frivolously essential implement that made camp just a little more comfortable. A distaff representative was also in order. Someone who could endure the uncouth company of older men for an extended period of time. This narrowed the narrowest of fields to one. How about Julz she was just as tough and uncouth as “The Boysies” and to our chagrin she could drink us both under the table! She had the virtue(virtue?) of being right next door in Korea. So twas decided to rendezvous in Ulan Bataar the worlds coldest capital city. Think Soviet cement set in grassy steppe.
After provisioning for a months trip and hiring transport we bumped across 500 miles of bad road to arrive at our put in at Hovsgol Nuur. From there the plan was to circumnavigate the lake descend the Eygin Gol to the Ur to the Selenge Goll arriving in Sukhbataar 42 days later. By mutual decision fueled by Dougs lovely bottle of Jamiesons Irish Whiskey we dubbed ourselves the Chingis, Chingaderos- a Mex-Mongol amalgam that nicely translated means Chingis, Rogues our homage to the national hero-villain Chingis Khan. Good thing were weren,t in India otherwise we would have been Ghandi,s Geeks.
After paddling for a few days Doug and I noticed that our charmingcompanion never bathed! Not that we could smell her above the wind and our own funk but the “Boysies” did brave the cold lake every day or two for a brief bracing dip. Finally all was revealed(not all unfortunately) but her secret nocturnal ablutions.Turns out “The dirty girl”as we had dubbed her was resorting to industrial strength wet wipes(recommended by large animal veternarians)to swab down her privates in the private confines of her tent. She also prepared a nightly liter of hot tea placed in a nalgene at the foot of her sleeping bag to warm herself so we didn,t have to. She explained to us later that she couldnt abide cold water. But only in the liquid form it seems. Strangely the frozen kind hold great attraction for her and she enjoys climbing on and living around it. The Antarctic and Alaska being her favorite haunts.
Like Russia “The Dirty Girl” is a riddle inside a mystery wrapped in a Burrito. Viva los Chingaderos!