An inhospitable land

A
Discover
story by
Adrià Espí Reig

For those who do not know it, northwest China is a little or nothing urbanized region, where societies are established in small villages and settlements. Many of the local people are ethnic minorities who continue to live with the same customs as their ancestors, some of them remain nomads who live on different parts of the land depending on the season or the climatology.

The terrain is changing due to the seasons and their location, and the low pollution and domestication of the terrain. There is still a lot of unspoilt terrain, where spring does its creation work, summer brings a dry heat, strong but scarce in time, and most of the year is cold with snowy and icy times of the terrain. Let’s say everything acts much more “natural” there.

It was a real discovery to see natural landscapes so extensive, the coarseness of the terrain that is lost on the horizon. To be able to see how clouds and rain zones form in the sky and at the same time at night you would lose the account counting stars, for the amount that can be seen.

I certainly anticipated that this journey would transform the way I see the world. My world, small, controlled, invulnerable, comfortable, safe… Now I felt like I was falling into a wild, uncontrolled, natural land. A land that does not care about your well-being, that advances at its pace and with its own standards. I felt small in something so great, but at the same time part of it, connected with all that nature, welcomed by it as one more.

READ MORE ABOUT...

A visit

An instant

A habit

An inhospitable land

For those who do not know it, northwest China is a little or nothing urbanized region, where societies are established in small villages and settlements. Many of the local people are ethnic minorities who continue to live with the same customs as their ancestors, some of them remain nomads who live on different parts of the land depending on the season or the climatology.

The terrain is changing due to the seasons and their location, and the low pollution and domestication of the terrain. There is still a lot of unspoilt terrain, where spring does its creation work, summer brings a dry heat, strong but scarce in time, and most of the year is cold with snowy and icy times of the terrain. Let’s say everything acts much more “natural” there.

It was a real discovery to see natural landscapes so extensive, the coarseness of the terrain that is lost on the horizon. To be able to see how clouds and rain zones form in the sky and at the same time at night you would lose the account counting stars, for the amount that can be seen.

I certainly anticipated that this journey would transform the way I see the world. My world, small, controlled, invulnerable, comfortable, safe… Now I felt like I was falling into a wild, uncontrolled, natural land. A land that does not care about your well-being, that advances at its pace and with its own standards. I felt small in something so great, but at the same time part of it, connected with all that nature, welcomed by it as one more.

A bubble

My adventure led me on a 3-day tour of one of the immense deserts that populate our planet. In a first stage I passed through meadows and mountains by car as the terrain changed from a greenish color and to yellow and gray tones. I was perplexed at this marked change; you can tell how your skin feels different textures in the air, different temperatures. Fate was far away, and I was going to need both physical and mental exertion. It’s something I already knew, I’d prepared for it, and I felt strong and ready for what might come.

The second stage of the tour took place on a very different terrain than described above. It is a dry, hot, rough terrain… something in between a desert of sand and a mountain of dry trees. Here I started a journey mounted on a camel that was supposed to measure 4 meters.

I have to say that one of the things that surprised me the most and at the same time generated some fear was the animals in the area. I’m a person who loves animals and I tend to approach anyone whenever I get the chance. But in this case, not only the camel, but all the animals that I went down the road, generated a sense of respect for me. Not like that dog from your neighbor, tied up with a leash that moves his tail when he sees you, or your friend’s cat snuggles up in your lap. Here the animals were born in their environment, they have survived on their own, and your presence can sometimes make them uncomfortable. Not to mention its appearance, large, strong animals, tanned by the climate, by the search for food, by survival. One of the anecdotes I will always remember is the coup de reality (literally) that a goat gave me with its horns simply by looking at it. I repeat, not a goat like the one that looks at you from the shoulder of the road when you pass with the car, a goat that had to weigh 250kg, very large and with a disturbing look.

Returning to the camel, I was afraid almost throughout the journey, not only for the mood of the animal, but because the terrain became increasingly uncomfortable, more not able, wilder. I knew I would have to sleep somewhere on this ground, as nothing like a shelter could be seen as far as the eye came from. I was going to be at the mercy of nature and all that power. Although close to my guide, I kept thinking about my sofa, comfortable, safe, hot, since at this time it was starting to get dark and the cold was beginning to affect us all… except the camel, who seemed to care neither the cold nor me.

Only the light of the first ray of sunshine the next morning, the heat that penetrated my skin when I saw it and the beauty of its color growing as the minutes passed was what made me stop being afraid of how small I felt about all that. After spending the first night in a tent, praying that wolves or other animals were on a diet, and hoping that the cold would not freeze my feet, I set off for the heart of the desert. Dunes and more dunes dressed the terrain, something beautiful, beauty in its forms, calm, tranquility, subtlety, but at the same time enormity.

A visit

After the desert adventure, I said goodbye to what had been my legs during this magical journey, the wild camel. Just a look of gratitude, distant, firm, but enough. Some time later I came to what would be my accommodation over the next few days. A settlement of a nomadic family, made up of several adults and some children. The terrain already felt safer, at least there was green, some trees and you could feel moisture in the air, dragged from some nearby river or lake. Moreover, knowing that a family lived there meant that it was a living environment away from potential dangers.

It was there that I found the purest part of my journey; the love and respect that those people sought me without even knowing me. They accepted me into their core, offered me a tent to sleep hot, water and food in exchange for helping them during those days, and telling them about me. At that moment I thought to myself; How people who dominate nature, who move through this dangerous terrain without impediments, who have to live in different places during the year because the climate ruins their comfort, they are happy, aware of it, and with the humility to want to know what my life is like. world, learn from it. The dialect they spoke was typical of their family, a very minority ethnic group of which there were few people left in the community. One of the young boys could use a word that he understood and with that we were able to exchange some knowledge, since the rest were about looks, gestures and empathy.

The site, as you can imagine, was humble to its foundations. That is to say, what is necessary to protect themselves, to get food and water, to take care of their animals and to prepare the trips for their next location. That is why my trip was, in every way, a shock not only in culture, but also in terms of action, since there are no taps or pipes. Heat is generated with fire and rain is another resource to use, not something to run from.

I got to connect with that family, because… what does it mean to connect? We live “connected” to each other by networks, telephones, the Internet … we have relationships of different origins and therefore different degrees of involvement; your family, your partner, friends, colleagues, colleagues, acquaintances… in the end we label our relationships according to what they mean to us, and to that same degree we care about them or offer ourselves to them. What makes these people give you EVERYTHING they have without even knowing you? Feeling that they would sacrifice their well-being for a stranger, that they would share things with you in exchange for having a shortage for themselves. To connect is to see beyond the visible, the material, what you have, how you are, your skin, tongue, or place and offer yourself with love and respect, trust and dedication even if it is not reciprocated.

An instant

During living with this family, I was able to enjoy long walks around the settlement, sometimes alone, sometimes in company, all incredible. Among all the sites visited, I chose as my own momentary settlement the shore of a great lake, where I went daily to spend hours, my personal moment. The magic of the place made my thoughts form differently. There were no longer hours marked by a clock, but by the sun and my own instinct. There were no plans, delays, an unanswered WhatsApp, an unseen publication … just silence in my head, a shelf of thoughts arranged in their drawers. Perhaps it is the best therapy I have received in my life, not this particular trip, but all those moments that I have dedicated to separate myself (both physically and mentally) from the rest. I’m not talking about society, city, technology … I’m talking about disconnection, silence.

Time stopped for you while outside of you keeps moving. And the longer this parenthesis is, the better results it generates; lucid dreams in detail, clear thinking, quick ideas, mental clarity in every way. That is why this moment helped me, under this mental state, to be able to think about what I am, what I was and what I want to project, both in myself and in others.

There are those who think that one is the way they are and that they cannot change, or who do not like to hold on. I do not know a more erroneous thought and more destined to fail, because of its obvious nature. It can be changed, we can all change and I think that we must all change in many moments of our life, because sometimes bad things happen to which we must adapt, or good things to which we must also adapt, and change or have the intention at least learning from it is what makes us wiser and more aware, and as a consequence, to be at peace with ourselves.

A habit

The trip ended, I returned to my house, my home, my routine, my relationships, my thoughts from day to day. Did I come back being the same? No Did I come back to be the same? Neither. A trip changes you, even if it is very little, it always brings you something, maybe something new, maybe something different, an apprenticeship, a friend, a business, an idea … I think that people are very different, and we capture the nature of things in very different ways.

Over time I realized that it only depends on one factor; How open are you to the experience? It may sound very pretentious to think before a trip “is this trip going to change my life?”, But since I implanted this principle in my life, the return is always better, I return home proud of where I come from, proud of what I have learned wherever I have gone and setting new goals based on what I have learned. Whenever I ask myself this question, my life is a little better, because I am not afraid of change, since my change is always for the better. “How open are you to the experience?” it has been my personal transformation. “Is this trip going to change my life?” it has been my means to achieve it. And as I apply this question not only to travel but to other aspects of my life, I learn more about my surroundings.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

Sign up for our Newsletter to recieve updates and extra information.

Overrove.com.
2020.

All rights reserved.