Mongolia, Part 4: What did I sign up for?
Sometime I love this trip. Most times I really like this trip. Occasionally, though, I really don’t like this trip. But regardless of these fluctuating emotions, I know I will look back on this trip and be glad I took this trip.
On night 3 of camping, I feel like I can put up the tent by myself. I know what to pull aside and pack to take from the van and into the tent with me. I have my pre-bedtime routine down and even a wake-up routine. Even among the chaos that this trip has brought, I’ve been able to find some stability in the day-to-day.
Despite these minor moments of accomplishment, there are many, many contrasting thoughts of “Why did I sign up for this?” It’s easy and lazy to be cynical about having to do your own dishes after every meal, getting lost numerous times along the journey, and wondering when your next shower will be. But I should count myself as lucky. How many people get to camp surrounded by dinosaur fossils that have been unearthed after millions of years?
My moods have rotated during this trip, mostly due to unforeseen roadblocks, as in roads that literally do not exist. I find myself fantasizing about my life back in Barcelona, the creature comforts, dogs everywhere, having clean hair and nails without dirt under them. And the simple pleasure of flushing a toilet.
On night 2 of camping, I took a few dozen paces away from camp, into complete darkness, only accompanied by the glittering canopy of stars above, more stars than I’ve seen in one place in a long time. I thought about my mom and how much she would love something like this, and how she prepared me to be able to enjoy something like this. I wondered if she was watching me, maybe from one of those stars.
That night I took a Benadryl, laid my head on one of my softer packing cubes, said my prayers, and when I tilted my head just so, I could still see those stars. A cool desert breeze blew through the screen that we had closed to keep out the bugs but still airy to keep the tent cool. I felt closer to my mom in the Mongolian desert than I had felt in a long time.