Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 100

We did it! We made it 100 days in the Mongolian wilderness. Alright... so we live in an aimag center and have it pretty cushy, but I’m still a little impressed with myself and my newfound skill set. I can see myself in 50 years saying to my grandkids, hand on my hip, shaking a finger, “when I was your age, I walked three quarters of a mile to and from work…” or “I didn’t have a microwave and made all my meals from scratch….” or even “I hand washed all of my clothing….” And don’t think I’m complaining about any of this. I found I’m not taking these things for granted and I actually don’t mind doing any of it. Working hard to prepare a meal makes the food taste better, and clothes I used to classify as "dirty" I've found I can squeeze out a few more wears.

So it’s SNOWING here today!! (Long pause for dramatic effect…..) Even though I prepared myself for Mongolia to be cold, I didn’t expect it to get so cold so fast. I mean where did fall go? I want the leaves to fall from the trees they don’t have here and to tailgate for football games they know nothing about.I guess I should stop daydreaming and move on to more important topics like buying a coat and shoes that adequately cover my feet.

Me trying to keep warm after a dusting of snow.

Hair Cutting Ceremony
A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to be invited to a hair cutting ceremony for the daughter of Anthony’s counterpart Byra. Mongolians consider hair to be sacred and the first cutting of it is quite a big event. It was a lot of fun and in typical Mongolian fashion, there was plenty of food and drinks served. After we’d all eaten the 3 year old girl, Ano, who was wearing her traditional Deel, carried around a platter with scissors on it and went around to everyone in the room and they cut off a piece of her hair and placed the lock on the platter. We pretty much butchered her hair and after a few rounds it started to look like a mullet (no one was going for the back for some reason!) Some people brought her gifts and I was happy to be a part of it.

Cutting in action....

Business Expo
Last Friday and Saturday they had a business expo at the sports stadium in our city and a few of the business owners I work with set up a booth to sell some of their products. In all, there were about 50 vendors set up ranging from farmers, bakers, and boot makers to craft and jewelry tables and bank displays. The Chamber of Commerce and Mercy Corps coordinated it and overall it was a success and a lot of fun to witness. They handed out trophies to the best booths, and one of the business owners I work with, Ornaa, won one and we of course, celebrated yesterday in her ger with plenty of food and drinks.

We’ve been hanging out with our sitemates a lot lately and Alyssa has been sharing all of the goodies she has gotten in her care packages from the states and we have been making yummy comfort food from home; Mexican casserole, homemade pizza, bruschetta, and CAKE! In addition to shoving our faces, we’ve also been brainstorming ideas for community projects and also getting a feel for what they are already doing here that we can get involved in. They have a “Monglish” night every Tuesday for a couple of hours where, you guessed it, we just talk and play games in a combination of English and Mongolian giving everyone a chance to practice their second language. They also host a cooking class once a month where they teach Mongolians how to make American-type food dishes. I'm looking forward to this and the opportunity for me to showcase my Martha-Stewart-of-a-husband. Anthony has turned into quite the cook since we've been here; making homemade bread (even bagels!)and getting pretty fancy with our meals. 

Well they are busting out the vodka again at work, so I'd better wrap this up. Always open for questions and I will update soon!

Fun Fact: Did you know it is not appropriate to whistle inside of a ger? It is considered bad luck and can attract snakes, bad winds, and ghosts.