Our first yurt is a surprise. It’s a bright white ring in a field of green. And soon fistfuls of yurts gleam all over the place …
Yurts are sturdy portable tents. They have steam-bent wooden frames and walls made of lattice. Layers of sheepskin felts weatherproof the outside and thick carpets insulate the inside.
YuRtS are the face of Kyrgyzstan in summer!
Slowly their logic unfolds. They go up and down the mountains. They go up and down with the seasons. They twinkle, on slopes, only in summer. Kyrgyz herders and horses, cattle and sheep migrate vertically! They move up to mountain pastures in summer and come down to the sheltered valleys in winter. Only an occasional yurt for a herder of the hardy, hairy yak hangs around in winter.
Yurts don’t argue with the seasons. They don’t brace blizzards on wintery mountain-tops. They simply roll up and go home.
And it’s been like this forever.
Today, a herder still charges for every animal head he takes up the mountain to feast on the summer pastures. Land belongs to every-one. Livestock belongs to one. Goats, sheep, cattle and, above-all, horses! Drink the milk of a mare, and you will be strong like a horse! Called ‘Kumiss’ it ferments to 3% alcohol and Harry and I don’t like it.
But YuRtS are cozy places!
Harry and I live in a yurt, with a Kyrgyz family, for 3 days on the lake-shores of Issyk-Kol. Harry fishes and I swim. We eat like kings … pancakes, pink wild berry jams, clotted cream, little yellow apples in syrupy sauce, heavy breads and yak butter, spicy large flat noodles topped with meat, noodle soups, stuffed dumplings and crammed meat pies.
Here is to Yurts and Yaks … and the lovely family of Zamira …