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Photo by Diego Jimenez on Unsplash

Try not to mourn the holidays you won’t be taking this summer. We all need to get used to travelling less anyway.

It was early evening, one day last August, when I found myself standing on a rocky buttress, cheering the sudden onset of clouds. A fresh weather-front was barrelling in over the Altai massif, and now the clouds were pluming at the mountaintops, draping columns of rain. By now, after four days in the mountains, I understood what this foreshadowed. …


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I met one of those people who get their ‘news’ from Alex Jones. It clarified a lot about the appeal of conspiracism.

Last week, I met my first real-life conspiracy theory person. Let me tell you about it.

She was a middle-aged woman living in a three million dollar house in a genteel neighbourhood in South London. I was there with my friend to do the garden — to clip some hedges and mow the lawn. We got more than we bargained for.

Over the course of the day, she succeeded in steering conversations about how hard we should prune the honeysuckle into randomly-generated disquisitions on pretty much every batshit conjecture from the Infowars archive.

A missing crest on the gates of Buckingham Palace was held up as evidence that the Queen was a paedophile. Coronavirus, inevitably, was something to do with 5G. Last week had been a busy time for chemtrails — she’d been feeling superhuman thanks to some pills she had been taking, because they contained as much goodness as “350 oranges”. But then she’d got a headache on the same day that she saw a plane fly overhead and, well, the causation was clear. …


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Khuanitkhan, one of the famous eagle-hunters of the Mongolian Altai region, stands with his golden eagle.

A cynic seeks to rediscover the art of wonder in the West Mongolian mountains.

Text by Henry Wismayer; Images by Marcus Westberg

It was early evening in the Chikhertai Valley when I found myself standing on a weathered buttress, cheering the sudden onset of clouds.

A fresh weather-front was barrelling in over the Altai massif, and now the clouds were pluming at the mountaintops, some of them wispy and translucent, others dark and penumbral, draping columns of rain. By now I understood what this foreshadowed. Soon, the cloud-cover would fracture the dusk light, and sunbeams would daub chiaroscuro patterns on the land, transmuting the grasslands into prairies of gold. …

About

Henry Wismayer

Essays, features and assorted ramblings for over 80 publications, inc. NYT Magazine, WaPo, NYT, The Atlantic, WSJ, Nat Geo, and TIME: www.henry-wismayer.com.

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