Monthly Archives: August 2010

Well oops, it sure has been a long time since I updated my blog.  It’s just that I’ve been so busy, you know, moving to site and networking and building capacity and perfecting my Mongolian and developing…stuff…and just teacher training up a storm.  Whew!  Very busy.  Very productive.  Is what I am lately.   I have definitely not been spending any time sitting here, on the couch, with Ryan, watching episodes of Twin Peaks on the laptop.

Also, I’ve not been gawking at pictures from the Glenn Beck rally.

Let’s do a picture wrap-up of the summer, shall we?

Meet Batbaatar.  When we had our Mongolian BBQ by the river in July, this guy was there with his four horses, offering 30 minute rides for 2000 tugriks a pop.  At the beginning of the day I thought this was a terrible idea: I was wearing a dress, first of all, and second of all those saddles looked exactly as small and hard as I’d read about, and third of all I had other things to do, like eat potato chips and drink beverages and swish my feet around in the water.  After a few hours/beverages, though, it seemed absolutely imperative that I ride one of those beautiful danged horses before the day was done.  So I saddled up and rode out with Batbaatar and two of my other sitemates.  And for the next week or so I told everybody who would listen about the Law and Order SVU Bruises that were all over my thighs.

May I recommend wearing pants before galloping around on one of these?

Okay so what else.  This here is Anuka, my oldest host sister’s daughter.  She tried to get me to sit on the back of that bike all summer long, and all summer long I told her fat chance.

She’s also a big fat cheater at Uno, but that seems to be par for the course when it comes to host siblings and card games.

Speaking of host siblings:

Here we have Ryan and Sanja, during Ryan’s last night with his family.  We were packing up when duder toddled in and discovered our crank flashlights.  Ryan provided a tutorial.  Sanja listened cutely.  I was like “o man” and took some pictures.

I miss the little stinker.

This was my favorite delguur lady in Nalaikh (which is where I lived this summer — I assume we’re allowed to disclose this information now that training is over and there is no longer a large group of Americans in that city, waiting to be targeted by bad people on the Internet).  Her store was right next to the school where we went for our training sessions, so she dealt with us and our ice cream cravings a lot.  She was real nice, always complimenting us on our horrible Mongolian.  Thanks for all the Coke Zeros, nice delguur lady.

Ryan came to visit me in Nalaikh at one point; here he is singing some Mongolian songs with Aaw.  Other highlights from that visit include: me getting violently ill into a bucket in my bedroom; Dog somehow getting loose and bounding around inside the house, all crazy and dirty and drunk on his sudden freedom; Ryan arriving, putting his bag down and asking where the bathroom was.  HA.

Speaking of indoor plumbing, here’s what our site announcements looked like:

As you can see, there was a big map on the floor, and then they called out our names and we went and stood on our new homes.  When our site was announced — Erdenet, a copper mining town in the north and the second biggest city in Mongolia — it wasn’t too surprising.  The information about our digs — an apartment with central heating, a bathroom and running hot water — was also not a huge surprise, but it was kind of a huge relief.  All this week I’ve been reading on the john, and it sure is swell, you guys.

When it was time to leave Nalaikh, Eej and Aaw drove me to school and packed my things into the van and stood around with the other Mongolian host families.  Aaw had even brought his accordion along, so he strolled around, playing little ditties to entertain everybody.  Then, it was time to go — we all stood around for one last round of pictures, Americans and Mongolians, and then I hugged Eej and shook Aaw’s hand and said “I will miss you” and even though I’d practiced it the day before I still got a little misty, saying goodbye.

Anyway here’s my oldest host sister and Eej, making buuz on my last day in Nalaikh:

I do indeed miss them.

So that doesn’t exactly bring us up to date, but I should go to bed:  Tomorrow is the first day of school, the opening ceremony starts early and I have to dress up and give a speech.  My goal is to avoid tugging at my collar while sweating profusely and gulping.

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Thursday, July 15, 8 p.m.

My host sister just gave me two big, beautiful grape tomatoes.  I detected the faintest taste of soil as I ate the first one, and various things came to mind.  I recalled what our medical officers told us about the produce here, and where it sometimes comes from (China) and how it’s sometimes grown (in human shit) and how it is therefore a very good idea to scrub and bleach and peel the crap out of everything (LITERALLY!  lolololol lolz rite).  As I chewed the ripe, juicy flesh of that delicious-ass tomato, I thought of parasites and bacteria and intestinal distress.  Violent, protracted, unyielding intestinal distress.  Vomiting.  Pooping.  All day long.

And then I done ate that other tomato anyway: YEEHAW

My skin is really dry here, all the time.   Have I told you this?  Right now, as I was writing, I looked at my hand and was grossed out by the papery oldness of it.  FYI.

Somebody’s phone is ringing, and the ringtone is 50 cent (Go shawty, it’s your birfday).

Here is what my last couple of hours have been like:

I came home at about 6:40 to find my host brother Gomba napping on the couch, and the vegetable-and-meat soup from lunch still sitting in a pot on the camp stove.  Nobody else was around.  I thought to myself:  I will take some initiative, and I will put some of this soup in a bowl and then I will microwave the crap out of it and then voila!  I will have made myself dinner, and Gomba will have not awoken from his sweet Gomba-slumber.  So I went to turn on the microwave, and it was dead.  I flicked a light switch: Nothing.

No problem, I thought:  I will pour this bowl of soup in a pan, and then I will put the pan on the gas-powered camp stove, and then I will boil the crap out of it and then voila!  Me dinner, Gomba sleep, etc.  But when I went to turn on the gas, that was dead, too.

So I’m standing there in the slowly darkening kitchen, bowl of room temperature soup in hand.  I’m totally befuddled (the power’s out AND we’re out of gas?), I’m trying not to awaken my bro, and I’m unable to pour the bowl of soup back into the pot because I have already sprinkled it, liberally, with Tobasco sauce (everybody else in the family hates my Tobasco sauce).  So like the silly, powerless adult-child that I am, I put the bowl on the kitchen table and covered it with another bowl and prayed to the Language Barrier Gods that the power would come back on before my family arrived home.

No such luck, of course, ha ha ha!  Ha.  Mom and Dad and Big Sister are out in the kitchen right now.  The power is still out, and they’re fixing dinner on the stove with a new can of propane.  My Mongolian is godawful, but I can tell that The Mystery Bowl of Food is a big topic of conversation at the moment (“What is this?” ” Oh it’s food from lunch”  “Why is it here?”  “I don’t know”  “Whose is it?”  “I don’t know”  “Gomba, is this yours?”  “NO MOM IT’S NOT MINE”  “Well maybe it’s Katie’s food”  “Well wtf is that weird American up to now” etc).

Excuse me while I look up the phrase “Oh sorry, I was going to microwave that but the power was out, and then I was going to cook it but I couldn’t figure out the stove, and then I didn’t know what to do so I did nothing.  Silly me!  Ha!  I think I’ll just sit here in the kitchen and smile for a while, as per usual,  if that’s okay with you.”

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