Photographer's Note

Don't judge a book by its cover.

We stopped, on our long journey, not out of fascination for this beautiful sight, but because we were shocked. In front of us a true calamity.

My Mongolian friends chattered between each other, and I knew, because a dear friend had told me about it before I ventured out onto the vast lands of Mongolia.

An open-sky gold mine.

"They are called ninjas because of the way they dress," Aiuna told me. They were covered from head to toe, only their eyes squinting from behind layers of cloth. No wonder, the dust was unbearable. We stopped mid-way down the hill, climbed out of our cars and stared into the distance. A distance stretching down the valley, beyond what we could imagine. A distance filled with the sound of large and small machinery busy excavating, digging, drilling, sorting dust from gold. We tried to discern a path that would allow us to continue beyond, to be on the road again. It seemed impossible, as if they had excavated the road itself just in order to find even the tiniest of speckle, not wasting any chance.

I turned to look away.
I saw what you are looking at here.
My eyes filled with tears.

We packed ourselves back into our cars, drove on, this time close to one another. As we headed down into the mined area, none of us spoke. There was an eerie tension in the air, the ninjas all staring at us. I did not dare roll down the window as the dust would have engulfed us all. I pulled out my little video camera and filmed whatever I could, from behind the window of a car being tossed side to side by a road of dust and holes.

My Mongolian friends knew about the mines in Oyu Tolgoi, but had no idea they had spread so far west as well.

I am fully aware of the distortion one experiences whilst travelling in distant lands, yet I must say that in Mongolia I met the kindest, most honest, welcoming and gentle people I have ever encountered. I found a home and a family that feel closer to my Heart than the ones I was born into. And, with this in mind, I hope You will understand that what I saw that day deeply angered me.

What great way indeed, our Western way.
We pillage and destroy, bringing ancient societies to their knees as they answer our vision of fortune and wealth.

Only after the last tree has been cut down,
Only after the last river has been poisoned,
Only after the last fish has been caught,
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

- ancient Cree prophecy

An advance Thank You to those amongst You who take the time to leave a comment and/or critique!

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Additional Photos by Julia Leijola (leiju) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 435 W: 84 N: 523] (1697)
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