21st Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Travel
Take life without wasting any bit / Mongolian nomad carefully cutting sheep meat

A mongolian nomad cutting fresh sheep meat. This day we went to a ‘ger cafeteria’, which is common in the Mongolian countryside. After our meal, the family who owned the ger invited us into their ger and let us watch, while they were preparing other dishes. After a while, the woman who cut the sheep for us, stood in front of me, looked me in the eye and started talking to me about something in Mongolian. I smiled and said to her in Japanese, “I can’t understand you”. She wrapped her hands around my shoulders and gave me one kiss on each cheek. I didn’t know what she was saying, but I felt very warm. I felt that kind of weepy feeling you get, when people are kind to you when you most need it. Just before we left, our local coordinator translated these words spoken by her. She told us with a small tear in her eye, “We killed the sheep 2 days ago, but I hesitated to prepare the meat until today because my intuition was telling me to wait. I didn’t know what it was, but God was telling me to wait for something. Now I know that something was you. I have two sons but you mean something special like them to me. Thank you for coming I had been waiting for you. I hope your travels are safe and successful”

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 06.2023
Date Uploaded: 11.2023
Photo Location: Zavhkhan / Ider River, Mongolia
Camera: ILCE-7M3
Copyright: © Marie Iwasaki