Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mongolia | Sixth Nine-Nine | Zuraasan Zam Garna

The sixth of the so-called Nine-Nines—nine periods of nine days each, each period marked by some description of winter weather—began on February 5th. This is Zuraasan Zam Garnai, the Time When the Trail of the Road Appears. This description would seem to indicate a slight warming from the previous Nine-Nines, a time when well-traveled trails become free from ice and snow. Indeed, on the night before the first day of this Nine-Nine, the temperature did not get below 0ºF / –18ºC for probably the first time this year. We did, however, get three or more inches of snow here in Zaisan Tolgoi that night, along with extreme winds. Three of the windows in my hovel blew open during the night and the next morning I had little inch-high snow drifts on my wool carpets. Over 400 People Were Lost or Trapped in the snow storm. Since then temperatures have plunged, going down into the Minus 30sºF every night. So the trails have definitely not reappeared. And the Forecast for Tsagaan Sar, the Lunar New Year, on the 14th, is not much warmer. This has been a gruesome winter. Reportedly 1.8 million head of livestock have died so far, and the number is expected to rise significantly. Figures of 20 million have been tossed around, more than half of all livestock in Mongolia, but if this happens it might as well be the Apocalypse for Mongolia. As mentioned before, I am unable to leave Zaisan Tolgoi at the moment so I cannot report on what is going on in the countryside. There is a YouTube Video: Nomads Face Hunger Crisis.