This trip has been highly enjoyable, but was it a success given all my earlier expectations? Definitely. Although as I write this on my layover in Seoul on my way back to LAX, a creeping feeling of nervousness about returning to the day-to-day grind is surfacing. The comforts I missed in the countryside–indoor plumbing highest on the list–seem to come with a price, I’ve realized. My time on the steppe gave me a feeling of freedom that was unusual and healing. The girl in me who still lives with the upturned cardboard box as an end table doubly appreciated that freedom.
I can’t fly off to Mongolia every few months to recharge my batteries. But if there were a way to engineer more frequent travel and adventure into my life, I’d be much better off. It will be something uppermost in my mind as I return home.
In Mongolia, I found everything I sought for myself: peace, quiet, stunning beauty, and a way of life that persists doggedly in the modern world, despite an increasingly vulnerable environment. I also came away with something I hadn’t expected: new friends.