I can't believe we are down to the last 2 weeks in our towns before our Pre-Service Training (PST) is over. It seems like just yesterday we were dropped off at our front doors with all of our luggage in tow (well MOST of our luggage.... I had to run after the van because I left my purse and coat on it; some things haven't changed.) As much as I'm looking forward to going to site, I will miss my little town and all of its simplicity and charm. It's driving us all crazy not knowing where we are placed yet. Come August when our site placements are announced I guess its a pretty big reveal party. We all stand on a map as they call us up and tell us where we are going. I was kind of hoping there was a hat Harry Potter-style that we put on and it would scream out our province name, but I'm thinking not so much. So I thought I'd take this opportunity to tell some funny stories over the summer months I've spent here so far. Grab some popcorn?!?
Mongolian Lantern Party~
As I said, I'm visiting Anthony this weekend. Last night we went for a walk and noticed these balloon type things sprinkled across the sky, so we walked over to see what it was all about. There were a lot of people gathered and they all had these lantern-type things made out of colorful paper. At the base was a flame and once the hot air filled up the lantern, they released them into the sky. It was really pretty to watch, they looked like tiny little hot air balloons dancing across the sunset. It was also a great opportunity to discuss fire safety with Mongolians..... if only we had more language knowledge! There were some who let go of their apparatus prematurely and instead of it floating away into the sky, floated into a group of people.... YIKES. But it was fun to people watch and be a part of such a cool event, even though we had no idea what was going on or why, but sometimes we don't need answers to those questions to still enjoy ourselves.
One of my favorite stories so far was the first night I arrived at my host family. They brought in a bucket (which they have never done since) and basically motioned to me that if I had to use the bathroom during the night, I should do so in the said bucket, instead of walking across the yard to the outhouse. They pointed at my Toumpin (bathing/laundry bowl) and gave me a thumbs down, and to the bucket and gave me a thumbs up. Rough translation - pee in bucket, not Toumpin.... got it! So as I was settling in, I became parched and grabbed my aluminum water bottle for a drink. I got a piece of paper along with my swig of agua and noticed that there was a price tag in the bottom of my "new" water bottle (why would it be in the inside?!?!) But nonetheless, it needed out. But the bottle was too narrow to reach in. So I went over to my Toumpin and began to pour the water out in hopes of pouring the price tag out. It took a few attempts but I finally did it.... mission accomplished. The next morning my sister came in to get me for breakfast and looked horrified as she saw liquid, and what she could only assume was pee, in my Toumpin. Ironically enough, it did look like the perfect amount for a midnight tinkle. She pointed from the Toumpin to the bucket and her face said it all, "I gave you specific instructions and you messed up!" Again this was day one, so I knew practically zero Mongolian so I ran over to the Toumpin and started splashing my hand in the water and screaming the only noun I had learned yet, thank God, "WATER,WATER." She looked even more horrified when she saw me splashing around what she still thought was my own urine, but finally got that it was water, gave me a weird look and left.
Me and my friend Bryce with our Toumpin hats
My Host Family Assumes I Have a Hair Fetish~
So not too long after I arrive in Mongolia, I get labeled a hair cutting expert and begin giving several of my fellow volunteers haircuts. During training, using borrowed scissors, I cut quite a bit of hair off my first two victims at their insistence. To make it a quick cleanup, I used one of their Toumpins to catch all of the hair (there are so many uses for that thing!) Afterward, I was the one left cleaning everything up and since there is always a lack of trash recepticles in Mongolia, we put all of the hair into a ziplock bag. (I think there was talk by one of the girls, to use it for some type of prank later, but that never panned out.) So anyway, I'm not sure how, but that bag of women's hair got into my bag. Of course the first thing my host family pulls out when they begin helping me unpack is a bag full of human hair. I got a lot of weird stares, and let's face it, there's hardly a way to explain that even in English so I didn't even bother trying. I learned in our culture class a week later that Mongolians consider hair to be sacred and keeping it to be extreme bad luck. They even have hair cutting ceremonies and its a pretty big deal. Since then I have cut all of my sitemates hair at our house, so I hope they at least get it and don't think I'm a total weirdo. Now I just need to find someone to cut MY hair...