I went to the Erdenet copper mine recently-ish! Would you please check out this gigantic thing:
It is an excavator, surrounded by wee little people!
Here is the (recreated) series of texts from last month that led to this visit:
Hi Kate how are you can you come to the mine tomorrow afternoon
Hi, thanks, I really want to but I’m team teaching until 5:30 tomorrow! I’m sorry.
Please, can you cancel your lessons
KATIE, WONDERING WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT
Haha okay, I can be free at 4:30?
We will leave at 3
KATIE, REALIZING SHE HAS TO CANCEL ALL HER FRIDAY AFTERNOON CLASSES IN ORDER TO GO ON THIS MYSTERY MINE VISIT
So here is our merry band of visitors — minus Khishgee’s miner husband, who was behind the camera — at the copper mine headquarters. I still have no idea what was so special about that particular Friday. Was it Bring Your Daughter, Wife, Wife’s Student, Wife’s Coworkers and Random Foreigners To Work Day? I may never know, but it sure was nice to be included, especially because this was most everybody else’s first time to the mine, too. I like tagging along when people are being tourists in their own country, you know? Everybody’s happy and goofy, and my dopey-sounding language seems almost appropriate (“Wow, can you use this machine? Is it from Russia? Is it the biggest? It’s crazy big, ha ha! Hey can I take your picture?”). Plus we got to clamber around on some bad ass equipment, and at the end of the afternoon we sat on benches and drank cartons of chocolate milk. A good day.
Now would you please check out these chocolate chip cookies:
Made with Nestle Toll House Morsels, no less. You can buy them (the morsels) by the kilo at Good Price, a store in Erdenet that inexplicably carries giant Costco bags of stuff. They also have giant Costco bags of walnuts, but you have to buy the whole bag, which is just about an entire month’s salary. The giant Costco bags of corn chips are somewhat more reasonable. I haven’t given in to them yet, but someday…someday.
Anyway. Last month, Ryan and I realized that if we didn’t want our coworkers to forget about us entirely, it would be a good idea to do something nice for them before we left Erdenet for the summer. I don’t have any pictures of our dinner party for Ryan’s office, but it went real well, even when Ryan’s boss yelled into the kitchen that I needed to put more chicken in his quesadillas.
So here are some of my ladiez, making mad cookies in our kitchen last month. My favorite parts of the day were:
1. Doogii and Tuya showing up a half hour after the appointed start time, and being shocked that they were the first ones there
2. Bayarmaa bringing a box of chocolates and a shopping bag full of fruity Hite beer
3. This conversation:
Hey, I keep forgetting…what’s Lhagva’s daughter’s name?
LHAGVA’S CLOSE FRIEND #1
LHAGVA’S CLOSE FRIEND #2
5. The card game they taught us, which involved “punishments” for the losers. Ryan was made to perform squats while holding me; one teacher had to stand on a chair and declare herself the most beautiful woman in the whole world; another had to seductively rub her butt against our Chinggis Khaan wall hanging. I got a laugh with “өө, хөөрхий Чингис” (“aw, poor Chinggis”). Zing! Am I right.
6. Finally, the discovery of the hats:
This all started with our beer-mug-bottle-opener-refrigerator-magnet, which you can see in the picture below, methinks. Somebody asked where it came from, and I found myself trying to explain our family’s annual Annapolis Bar Crawl, which, as it turns out, is difficult to do even in English (“…and everybody in my mother’s family comes to this one city, and we go to a lot of bars, and after a few bars we…we buy useless things…because it’s funny and we’re drunk? And then we mail these things to family members who aren’t there? Because this is also funny?”). Then the hats came out and everybody needed a picture with them.
Enkhmaa here showed up late — she came straight from some kind of mandatory teaching seminar, and we heckled her from our balcony as she literally ran across the courtyard. This is a picture of what she looked like after the other ladies told her to sit down put on a crab hat and pose for a picture, as this was “Ryan and Katie’s custom.”
In conclusion, I’m glad these guys let me hang out with them.
Oh but also would you please check out these dead, delicious honeybees:
This was taken a couple weeks ago in a little town outside Darkhan. A few days before the trainees came to Mongolia, we — Mongolian language teachers, Mongolian technical trainers, our Host Family Coordinator, and PCV trainers — split into groups and spent a day going from host family to host family, checking on the rooms and the houses and the outhouses and the whatnot, seeing if everything was shipshape and ready for the M22s. More accurately, the Mongolians I was with did all this work. I mostly wandered around, eating stuff, eavesdropping, occasionally asking an insightful, intelligent question (“UM AH YES HOW MANY COWS DO YOU HAVE”).
This was all on a Saturday, and oh boy did it eat up the entire day. There was some grumbling about our loss of weekend, but beforehand I told myself (and other people, too, and was mercilessly mocked for it) that I was going to think of myself as a tourist for that day. Come To Selenge Aimag! Spend A Day Visiting Real Families in Real Small Towns! See Their Homes! Drink Their Milk Tea! Eat Their Clotted Cream Fresh From Their Cows! Partake of Their Honey, Which Will Still Be Strewn With Bee Carcasses! People pay big money for that kinda stuff, and I got to do it for free. All day long. Is what I’m saying. Also, I live in a city of 100,000 and my training site last summer had 30,000 people, so I gotta take the Small Town Mongolia Experience where I can get it.
Also, there are camels in this aimag! We can see them from the road when we drive to the training sites! They are very ugly, but this doesn’t dampen my excitement. I will take a picture of them soon and show them to you, as God Is My Witness.
So yeah. Training. It is quite hard! And fun! And very very very hard. And that is all for now.
I hope you are super.