The Shit Project
When I was the first time in Mongolia, I was wondering, probably as the most visitors, how the locals make fire.
It is quite the first thing you may notice when you arrive in Mongolia: there are barely any tree.
No trees, no wood, no fire, it's not rocket science is it?
On the first visit in a Geer/Yurt, everyone will be curious why there's a pile of dung inside.
It won't take long when someone puts pieces of shit inside the oven - yes they fire with "shit"!
I was both fascinated and confused:
Is the dung just dried by the sun or dry frozen in the winter?
How long is it burning?
Is it only burning in a special oven or in a normal fire too?
Questions over questions... luckily I'm back in Mongolia to do my own investigations.
Starting the Project: Collecting "shit".
Everyone lives from their horses, sheep, goats, camels and what ever. Therefore, there is plenty dung to find.
According to a Mongolian girl is the camel dung the one which is burning the longest, horse dung the hottest and sheep/goat ones to get it going.
Or was it the other way round?
Anyway, I started to look for a diversity of dung with my beautiful vivid yellow plastic bag.
It didn't take me long to find plenty of camel traces, but how frequent do camel shit?
In hope that I don't have to walk 50km to find one single little piece I followed the traces.
And there it was, piles of it! With a satisfied smile in my face, I started to fill my lovely bag...
I guess it must have been a very strange image, a foreigner is eagerly collecting "shit" for his fire with his eye-catching shopping bag.
At least there was no Mongolian comedian watching me, he probably would have made a lot of people laughing about me...
So there I was with a diversity of dung, time for the next task on the agenda: To dig a fire hole.
The task would have been easy too if there was not the reliability that I always pick the most expose camp spot to the wind and a solid ground.
That's why digging took a bit longer as expected and until then the wind settled.
It's time to get that "shit" burning or like a saying in German: "die Kacke ist am dampfen".
Well there was a tiny tiny problem, how do you stack it properly so its starting easy to burn?
After a few attempt I managed to get it burning - yes it was burning!
Paper followed by a layer of sheep dung which is torn apart in little pieces, cover by some small pieces of horse dung.
The camel dung, the Swiss way grilled, Russian sausage :
As my pile of dung was so big, I still wanted to know if it is enough to cook something. So I stumbled in the fridge over that sausages I bought back in Russia, because they looked like the Swiss Cervelat.
I snatched one, put it on my Ukrainian Shashlik stick, cut the sausage like we do it in Switzerland and hold it over my beautiful shit-fire.
Holly molly, what a success it was!
The sausage nearly tasted like home, the dung pile was still huge when I was done and I learned something which could eventually save my life.