6 February 2008

Eagle Fest

Posted by JonHaley under: Mongolia .

What better way to add some excitement to the painful plodding pace of winter than to throw a good old fashion Kazak Eagle Festival? (Mongolian’s are all about animals and festivals. You name it, camel, yak, reindeer, eagle, antelope, etc., and it’s got its own festival at some point in the year).

Last weekend it was the eagles and their Kazak herders (falconers?), an ethnic minority from the far west of Mongolia (ie. near Kazakstan). Every foreigner in UB and many Mongolians were out for a fun-filled day in Terelj, the national park outside of the capital, featuring low-flying eagles swooping around and attacking anything small, fast, furry, and orange (we were explicitly warned on the ticket not to wear fox colored clothing!); a rousing game of “goat-polo” more or less rugby played with a goat while on a horse; and some actual live animal sacrifice in the form of a few rabbits offered as casual sport to the eagles, something that likely wouldn’t have gone down so smooth in North America.

Unfortunately, standing outside for 4 hours in the -xx°C led—some might say obviously—to some frozen feet, mild hypothermia, and a case of the flu which sort of made the experience less than sweet. But some valuable cold weather lessons were learned: don’t be cocky with the weather, protect the kidneys, I am not as tough as most Mongolians, I have shamefully little body fat. All better now though and a little smarter to boot!

Since I still don’t have a camera, I got all these shots from my roommate Jude. Everybody else with a camera was snapping away all day, so I might put some more pix up from them after a while.

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5 Comments so far...

marcos Says:

12 February 2008 at 6:23 am.

whaaaaaaa? th goat’s tied up for the polorugby?? This would not go down in el Norte Am. A few nice shots tho I would have liked a thermoter in there. Glad to know yer learnin and stil livin. Spring weather with rain here to start ratyear. Keep us posted on good uses of wool and furs.

Eve Says:

12 February 2008 at 9:08 am.

Good that you’re delegating by default camera duty to your peers. Everyone has this obsession that when their finger pushes the button the picture becomes “Theirs”…but really they’re all pretty much the same so see it with your own eyes while you can.
Painting the big west-facing room at Sue’s “banana shake” yellow as a new home for Tom and I until the inspector kicks us out in need of an office.
Started working this past week, you’ll never guess, cleaning houses! (with environmentally friendly products…e.i. lots of water, vinegar, essential oils aromatherpy, nature’s fare soaps, elbow grease…oh and the one highly toxic Mr.Clean Magic Eraser (not sure how it made it into the bin…I haven’t used it yet). It’s allright, most of the houses are pretty spotless when we get there anyway. Snow melts and snow falls, transportation has been icky/tricky.
I wanna go to Mongolia! But maybe not in the winter….

admin Says:

12 February 2008 at 10:06 am.

The goat is dead just in case that wasn’t clear…

karen Says:

14 February 2008 at 12:05 am.

hey Jon…im pretty impressed with the Eagle Fest…great pics!…keep up the good filming and the courage. karen

Rupinderjeet Says:

24 February 2008 at 3:16 am.

Both eagle fest and goat polo make North American extreme sports look like childs play. Goat polo….damn….why didn’t we think of that for this years retreat. LOL. Seems like your having a good time out there. Take care

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