Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

I am a nerd part 2

Christmas Eve

I spent the majority of the day trying to find a sugar cookie recipe. I did not bring mine and Steph had lent her cookbook out and the internet was down. I was eventually able to call Ashlee in BayanOlgi and she read the recipe off to me. And so I began making cookie dough. I watched Miracle on 34th Street, the 1990s John Hughes version and Home Alone. (Interestingly enough, also from the 90s and John Hughes…and now he’s dead) Once the dough was made and Steph was home from work, it was time to go to Modern Nomads, a restaurant in Darkhan that was western food choices.

Five M19s came (Garrett, Matt, Christiana, Katie, and Tyson) and five of us M20s were there (Claire, Meridith, Steph, Ryan, And I). M19s came to Mongolia in May 2008 and are the group I was originally supposed to be a part of. I really like meeting them, because most of them remember that I was originally one of them and it makes me fell famous. Hahaha I ordered a Chicken Club Sandwich, a cocktail, and a Mocha Cake for dessert. It was fabulous. Afterwards, most of us headed over to Christiana’s apartment for fun and games. We played charades and other group games and had a lot of fun. Steph and I did not make it back to her apartment until around 4.


The next morning I was up early and ready to start baking cookies. It didn’t really feel like Christmas, so I thought I would watch It’s A Wonderful Life, my favorite movie of all time, while I got to baking. Thank you so much, btdubs, to Ryan and Steph, for letting me use their computer. My power cord is experiencing some technical difficulties, but I am hoping my sitemate Patrick is able to bring one back from America and be my hero. Steph and Ryan’s oven was a little interesting working with. On the temperature knob there are only 2 numbers, 50 and 250. So I just had to put it somewhere in the middle and home for the best. I only burned about 10 cookies, so I am pretty proud. After It’s A Wonderful Life (and some tears) I put in Love Actually. I did not have any cookie cutters so I made several round cookies and tried to make some shapes just with a knife. I made candles, Merry Christmas wreaths, trees, stockings, a gingerbread man, stars, and moons that all turned out fairly well. Cookies that did not work out were the sleigh, (which I ended up turning upside down and decorated like a phone) baby Jesus, once candle, (looked like the male genital organ) the fish, (just a blob) and another gingerbread man (more of a sumo wrester, which is actually kinda fitting, considering where we are). Since I didn’t have any food coloring, the icing only came in white and chocolate. I think the decorating went a lot faster with just two color choices, although, I did finish Love Actually and switched to Elf. There was not enough room in the kitchen to lay all the cookies out to let the frosting harden, so most of the round cookies I made, I turned into sandwiches with the icing in the middle. By this time Carolina had arrived and her and Steph needed to start making their food for the party in a couple hours. Carolina made mashed potatoes and Steph made little pizza calzones. I helped a little. Steph is really good at folding the calzones, me, not so much. I heard Phoebe meowing in the living room, so I went to see what her deal was and ended up laying down on the couch next to her to just have a little Christmas snuggle, and totally fell asleep. Luckily, I had already taken a shower and was almost ready to go, since I only woke up about 10 minutes before we needed to leave for Christiana’s.

Christmas at Christiana’s was tons of fun. The Darkhan girls had planned a secret santa exchange, so everyone had a gift, and Levi even turned up in a santa suit he had found at the black market. There was tons of food and drinks and games and presents. All in all, it was a great time. One of our favorite games had everyone write down three people’s names on slips of paper. They had to people everyone should know (famous people mostly, though some Peace Corps staff and a few fictional characters). There are two teams and the first round people from each team try to get their teammates to say the name on the paper they pulled out using any means without actually saying the name. Each person gets through as many as they can in 45 seconds, then the next person goes. Once all the names have been guessed, all the names go back in and round 2 begins. This time, you can only use actions to get your teammates to guess the name, but as they have all heard the name at least once, it is a little easier. Round three you can only say on word. This game is very funny. Pamela Anderson went from a several sentenced description to miming running with big boobs to just the word “boobs!” My stomach hurt from laughing so much.

The next day I slept in a little bit, said hi to Ryan’s family on skype, called my parents briefly, and took another amazing shower. We ordered pizza, which was delivered, (seriously, Darkhan is like another country!) and borrowed a projector and made a screen on the wall using 4 pieces of pasteboard. At about 4 we started watching Twilight and then at about 6 we watched New Moon. Then, since I am a nerd and have read the books, I gave a brief summery of what happens in the next two books to those interested (um…everybody, especially Tyson).


Sunday, I woke up at 8 packed everything up, said goodbye and thank you, and headed to the bus station. I found a meeker and we left with only 16 people, so I was doing pretty well. En route, I managed to convince my friend Aleta (M20) to come to Arvaikheer with me. She was taking the week off, but didn’t have any definite plans as to where to go. Unfortunately the bus to Arvaikheer had only one seat available, but she did manage to convince the driver to let her sit in the aisle, while I wedged myself in the last row next to the window. There ended up being about 5 people sitting in the aisle, so the bus was definitely slow. The people sitting around me were all drinking vodka and getting pretty rowdy. A little over half way we stopped for food. I brought my cat in her bag into the little guanz (café) and set her on the floor between my feet. One of the women that had been sitting near me on the bus evidently thought I was putting meat on the floor, when I was actually putting it in Phoebe’s dish in her bag. The woman got very agitated and aggressive, even after someone explained to her I was feeding my cat. The women eventually sat down and continued to yell, but I wasn’t fussed. I have two younger sisters and can therefore ignore people for days. (No offense, girls, I love you to pieces!) Eventually we made it to Arvaikheer and to my ger with all our finger and toes and very sore butts and went to sleep. What a day!

I love you all! Take care and happy holidays! love, C

Friday, December 25, 2009

I am a nerd

brace yourselves, this one is going to be a doozy

Wednesday: I woke up at 6 am, got all ready, and headed over to my hashaa family's house to see if they would give me a ride to the bus stop. After communication was established, they agreed and invited me to sit in the kitchen until departure. The door of the house opens into a little entry way of sorts which has two doors leading off of it. The door to the right opens up into a room about the size of a standard hotel room minus the bathroom. At least 3 adults and 2 children sleep in that room. The door to the left opens to the kitchen, about the size a king sized bed. Two doorways (sans doors) each lead to a small room, think the length of a hotel room, but the width of a large hallway. The room straight ahead leads to a 3rd bedroom. On this side of the house sleep 7 adults and a baby. It was amazing to see all of these people get ready without getting in each others way or on each others nerves and without a bathroom. Seeing my director kiss on her grand baby was pretty much the cutest thing ever.

Anyhoo, they drove me to the bus, I got my big backpack put in the undercarriage compartment, and got my seat, which was right up front since I bought my ticket so early the day before. Then a teacher from my school got on the bus and had something she wanted to communicate to me, i think about her bag she brought, but I am not really sure. All through this she is standing next to my seat and I have my cat in a cat bag on my lap and people are trying to get past her to get on the bus. She keeps leaning over me/almost sitting on me, while I am trying to figure out what she is talking about and trying to prevent the squishing of said cat. It is also dark and freezing. Eventually everyone gets to their seats and the bus departs.

The bus always stops around halfway between Arvaikheer and UB, either at a small town or at a hotel/restaurant a little ways outside of the small town. Wednesday it was the hotel, which I like better, due to the indoor toilets mostly. I got a fried egg and a small bowl of meat for my princess kitten. After I ate, we went outside so she could eat. This attracted much attention, mostly good, from the men milling around, smoking and peeing, outside. Soon we were all on the bus again. Since the door was still open and it was very cold, I put Phoebs the Cat in my sweatshirt with her little head poking out. I thought departure was eminent, but then large Mongolian man, a wrestler? the proprietor?, came out of the establishment with a traditional blue scarf (Hatdeg, i think they are called) and some other items and evidently wanted to present them to someone. Most of the men get off the bus again and one of the waitresses is sent on the bus to get me. Unable to stow Phoebe back in her bag before I was pulled of the bus, she remained in my shirt. The man then presents two decorous metal objects and the scarf to the driver and many pictures are taken. The large man and the driver, the man and a group of passengers, the man and me, the driver and me, a little boy, possible large man's offspring, and me, the man and my cat, the boy and my cat. After some small chat in which I stun the men by telling them i live in a ger, we re board. As everyone shuffles past my front row seat, they touch the nose of my cat. Finally as the bus starts rolling, a man across the aisle puts his finger in his mouth and then puts the finger in Phoebe's ear.

Upon arriving in UB, I shake off around twenty drivers trying to get me in their cabs, grab my bag, and head into the ticket office to procure a bus ticket to Darkhan. I discover that they are not selling tickets right now, but a bus leaves to Darkhan every hour and I can purchase a ticket once I am on the bus of my choosing. I then put my trust in a nice young Mongolian girl to watch my bags while I run to toll toilet. 100 tugruks to use, another 100 for toilet paper. Thankfully, by bags, including the one with my cat, are still there when I return. I find a cab and head to the peace corps office.

At PC, I find that a PCV who accidentally took my flip flops back in August, has placed them in my box. (woohoo! Thanks Amanda!) I drop off some paperwork and say hi too the people working and ask for suggestions on food that is nearby, fast, and yummy. One of the Mongolians I ask offers me the half of her sandwich she couldn't finish for lunch. What a peach! It was a chicken club and it was very nearby, fast, and extremely yummy! Best thing to happen ever.

A little while later I walk with fellow PCV Alice to the duty free store to make a Christmas purchase and then to the main road to get a taxi. She heads to Big Burger and I get a cab and head back to Dragon Center to hopefully find a bus.

Taxis in Mongolia are everywhere. Almost anybody will pick you up and take you to your destination, not just people who drive for a living, but really anyone if they have the time. And if you are a foreigner, especially one with bags, people really want to get you in their cab. The trick is to confirm that they will charge you 500 tugruks a kilometer and now approximately how much you should be charged for the trip. Dragon Center to around PC is about 4000 tugruks. It also helps to speak Mongolian and let them know that you live in Mongolia and are not just a wealthy tourist. It is alot easier to convince them of this in the middle of December. I always ask them if they live in the city, ask them how their job is, ask them if they know Overhunghai (my aimag...like a state), tell them I live in Arvaikheer, and then clench it with telling them I live in a ger. They love this. A woman living in a ger alone never happens and a white girl doing it is hilarious. They usually ask me if my ger is cold and if I am an English teacher. Not only does this usually prevent hassles about the charge, but they usually help with my bags and are really nice.

Arriving at Dragon Center is hilarious. About 15 guys are trying to get me to go to wherever their vehicle is headed. Once I say Darkhan, a few grab my bags and head towards their meekers. A meeker is a small van type vehicle that are everywhere here. I try to insist on going on the bus, which are a safer bet, but they tell me a bus isn't leaving for another few hours and the most insistent driver tells me his meeker will leave in 40 minutes. So I have my first traveling by meeker for more than an hour experience. It actually was fine. We were not that crowded (only 15 people, I rode in one this summer with 22) and the we made no stops along the way. There are many stories of drivers stopping in the middle of the countryside at a ger for some socializing, vodka, and what not. About an hour in the guy sitting next to me with two large boxes between his legs turns to be and asks in English if I am going to Darkhan. He turns out to speak fairly good English and is a very nice young man. About 2 hours in the weather starts to turn bad. Blowing snow and high winds. I want to tell the driver that, from someone who grew up in South Dakota, it is actually better to not have your brights on during blowing snow since it just reflects off the snow and makes it even more difficult to see, but my Mongolian isn't nearly that good so I just had to hope for the best. It turns out that my meeker friend lives across the street from Steph and Ryan, so we were able to share a taxi and I finally made it to their apartment. 6 hours on a bus, 3 1/2 in a meeker, and Phoebe and I arrived! woohoo!

Wow, this is a long post. Descriptions of Christmas festivities will have to wait. Happy Christmas I love you all! love, C

PS thanks for the note Camber's mom! Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Hey, just a quick notice to let my peeps know I made it to Darkhan. The weather sucked for about the last hour or so, reminding me opf good old South Dakota, only I was in a meeker with 15 mongolians. I made cookie dough today and will make cookies tomorrow. No food coloring, but I am planing on making some frosting chocolate and some vanilla and having a black and white theme, hahahaha! I wi;ll let you know how it goes. I watched Home Alone and Miracle on 34th St, so that's. More to come about the trip later. Some highlights include being dragged of the bus so the proprieters of the roadside diner could take pictures with the white person and some old guy giving my cat a wet willy. Hahaha! Happy Christmas Eve! love, C

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bless Us, Everyone!

Friday, was quite the day! I have a club scheduled on 11 am that I have been calling theatre club for lack of a better name. We have been playing games mostly, but they have been asking to dance, so Friday I granted their requests. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I made a playlist on my iTunes of "rock out" songs, as Claire would say. We ended up not being able to use the bid speakers, but some computer speakers worked fine for us. There also happened to be some balloons in the cultural room that we played around with while dancing. I don't know where they came from and this is only the second time I have seen balloons in Mongolia. We "circle danced" for a while, did the train, and then I taught everybody a couple of jitterbugging moves that I learned in college. (Thanks Kat and Alex and Ceres and Farmhouse!) We finished off the hour with some trust falls, which are always a lot of fun. One student stood on the stage and fell backwards into our waiting arms.

I was told that later that day there would be a staff karaoke contest. I totally think this is something I need to bring back to America. I can just see the staff at Robbinsdale Elementary School...it would be brilliant! I showed up a little bit before 5, but it ended up not starting until about 7:30. There were 5 groups of staff members that sand together and then about 8 solo acts. The judges would then hold up their score, 1-5. The only downside was the quality of the speakers and the intense volume. Kate, you never would have survived. After all the official acts they asked for more people to sing while the judged tallied the score. My counterpart Tungaa made me get up and sing the one Mongolian song I know, which is about a mothers milk tea. Unfortunately, it was not on the karaoke machine, so I had to sing it a cappella. They then wanted me to sing an American song. I picked the first song I knew, but they must have put the number in wrong, because what actually came on was Blue Suede Shoes, but no worries, I rocked it. Then I stood in front of the judges and cleared my throat, like they should give me a score too. Everyone laughed and the judges gave me two 5s! It was a good time, but I was very happy to go home.

Saturday I woke up early and did laundry (see previous post for description of this venture) while I watched Zombieland. Two thumbs up for that, (not too scary, funny, and just the right amount of blood). Then I had went to Loving Hut to meet a Mongolian woman Patrick knows who is moving to Canada and wants to learn a little bit of French. She ended up not being able to come, but Brandon and Esayes were there, so I didn't have to eat alone. Brandon and I then ran some errands (ATM and Bombat grocerie store) and then went back to my ger. He had some new movies and tv shows to give me. (Almost Famous, Bolt, Ice Age, Freaks and Geeks, and Summer Heights High (think The Office but set in a school in Australia with one guy playing the three characters that are the focus of the "documentary" It's pretty funny)) Then our friend Khandaa came over and we watched Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Thank you so much Aunt Kte, huge hit. We watched it with the subtitles on so Khandaa could catch everything. I honestly don't think she needed them, her English is so good.

Sunday I did dishes and took a shower in the morning. Here follows a PG description of my shower time routine.
Step one: fill water boiler and plug in, make roarin' fire. Watch episode of half hour show, i.e. Scrubs, Freaks and Geeks, Summer Heights High...)
Step two: fill 1/3 solar shower (again, thanks Aunt Kate!) with now boiled water, trying not to burn self (fail) fill another 1/3 of solar shower with cold water (which has to be put in the water boiler after the hot water is emptied, because that is the only way to get the water into the tiny solar shower whole, unless on day I break down and buy a funnel)
Step three: hang from ger pole and position blue plastic tumpen under. LOCK DOOR! Nakedness is eminent, you do not want Hashaa family/random Mongolians coming in.
Step four: Kneel next to tumpen on jacket and wash hair. The water need to be turned off whenever not using or it will run out before cleanliness is achieved. I use Shampoo+Conditioner, but do it twice so I am not really saving anytime. You just can rarely find conditioner. Wrap head in tiny camp towel.
Step five: crouch in tumpen, avoiding soaking the floor as much as possible, cleanse self.
Step six: wrap up in huge scratchy bio-degradable towel (Again! Thankd Aunt Kate! You rule!)
I hope the towel doesn't bio-degrade on me! hehehehe
Lately I have be braiding my hair right after I shower, which makes it easier to re-braid in the morning, and the morning after that, and the morning after that. Then it is shower time again. Braided hair looks nice with hats, which I wear all the time nowadays. I usually shower on Sundays and Wednesdays. I actaually don't get as dirty as I thought I would, or maybe my standards have just changed. Arvaikheer (my town) does have a couple of shower houses available. I haven't used them because they cost around 3000 tugriks and after I am clean I would have to go outside to walk all the way home. I prefer my way which lets me avoid going outside with wet hair, although maybe this summer I will indulge myself.

Sunday afternoon, Brandon and Esayes and I ate at Loving Hut again (they now have pizza and burgers and apple pie and doughnuts~all vegan!) and then Khandaa gave us a ride to what the mongolians refer to as the "vatican" It is a very large haashaa (yard) with a nice building, 2 huge gers, and 2 small gers, a basketball court and soccer field. We met 2 Itallian priests and three sisters. They were very nice and gave us coffee cake (it made me miss my Grandma in Brookings!) I would like to go to mass once in a while if I can. It is in Mongolian and in one of the huge gers. It would probably be about an 80 minute walk for me so maybe I will wait until it gets a bit warmer.

Not much happened today (Monday) I made some calls to America this morning. My mom made it back to Rapid with my sisters, my grandmother, the dog and two kittens. Grandma will move into the assisted living place on tuesday, so I hope that all goes well. Kate will be going to Rapid with her truck and more of Grandma's things on Wednesday, so I hope the weather holds for her. Everything went well for my Grandpa Bill's funeral and the weather was nice so the roads were good for everyone who came. I also got to talk to my dad, my Aunt Sue, Aunt Casey, and my most wonderful third grade teacher Mrs. Dickschat. I had an English Club this morning, did some teacher training on project design, ate at Loving Hut again, (ok ok I can't cook!) had another English Club cancelled this afternoon and wrote this massive blog. (Blogzilla?) (Does this blog seem to have more parenthesis than normal? Is it excessive?)

I also had several homemade iced carmel machiattos over the past few days. Thanks Aunt Casey!

Tonight I hope to finsh my presents for the Darkhan secret santa and do more to get ready to go. Tomorrow more of the same, buy my bus ticket, maybe visit the ATM again. I leave Wednesday bright and early to go spend Christmas in Darkhan. I haven't been able to work out getting my cat to the vet, but I am taking her with me in hopes of maybe getting her seen on the way back. Mostly I just don't want to leave her on Christmas. Not that she knows, she is Mongolian, so probably a buddhist cat.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blog for Michelle, my belle

It's Michelle's 44th burthday and I got to talk to her yesterday. (sorry hun, you already put your agwe online, I though it would be ok.) I am sending you all the good feeling I can muster here in this frozen tundra I live in. Michelle told me yesterdsay that she checks my blog twice a day. I think more people read ym ridiculous ramblings than I imagine...

I talked to Brad, who had to return home for medical reasons. He is back in good old Rapid City, SD and is doing well and meeting with a surgeon soon (no mom, I didn't ask who, I am terrible.) Good luck Brad! I hope you feel perfect very soon!

I feel crappy today, not sure why. Probably has something to do the water, or the food, or the coal filling my lungs. "I think I've got the black lung pop! cough, cough"

ooops, time for an English Olympic Training. That's right, I train people for the Olympics! jealous? I thought so...

love, C

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Uh oh, the laundry's done!

I watched It's A Wonderful Life this weekend for the first time this year (definitely not the last!) and watched Elf while I did a TON of laundry last night. I thought I would describe for you my laundry routine.

1. First I need to make a fire. I get really excited when I can get a fire going with only one match. Last night was not the case, more like 10 matches were required. Then I need to fill up my metal tumpen about half way with water and place on the stove to heat up. Then I fill up my water boiler and plug that in. The water boiler holds about 8 cups of water. Then I sort my clothes. This is a very complicated system where items are sorted based on colors that bleed (ie Walmart dresses which turn things in the water after them purple-ish) and filth. You don't want to watch a work shirt after you wash ger pants that go to and from the outhouse. I like to do 2 loads. The first starts with the dresses and then moves to blacks which includes most of my long underwear. Should I need jeans or my brown pants or my sweatshirt washed they would also go in this load. The second is work shirts followed my khaki work pants as needed, then going to ger shirts, ger pants, pajamas, socks, and undies. Should a dirty item be discovered after its turn has passed, it most likely is headed back to the Water Distiller box I am using as a hamper, better luck next time.

2. So, once the water is hot in the metal tumpen on the stove, I add more wood to the fire, put the tumpen on the floor, press play on my laundry movie of the week, and get to washing. The trick it to wash fast so the water doesn't cool down too much before you are done with the load and to not pay too much attention to the color of the water. Yes it is dark gray color after the 1st, or if you are lucky, 2nd, item of clothing, but I swear it will be cleaner than when you started. Or at least, wetter and more wrinkly. Every item after being washed is thrown in the blue pastic tumpen awaiting the rinse cycle.

After the first load is washed, I dump the water into my dirty bucket. The bucket is called dirty, not because of it's roguish sense of humor, but rather because it resides under my sink to catch the sink water. It is where all used liquid goes and so has to be frequently taken out into the street and dumped. Since winter has come someone arranged the snow in a 3 wall barrier with a hashaa fence making the 4th wall, and this is where people are apparently supposed to dump water so as to not make the whole street a slippery cesspool but rather have one concentrated area. Like a disgusting miniature outdoor skating rink. Hopefully by this point the bucket is only about half full, so I don't have to go dump it yet. I then put more water in the metal tumpen and put it back on the fire, to which I add more wood.

3. At this point I turn to the blue tumpen. I add the no boiling water from my water boiler and some cold water from my water barrel. I rinse and wring out the clothes again and hang on my fancy collapsible clothes rack which I place close to the stove. Again, try not to pay attention to the fact the water is a dark grey. Afterwards I dump the rinse water into the dirty bucket and now have to take it to the street. This involves pulling on sweatpants, sweatshirt, hat, and my slip on brown manly shoes my dad bought me, over the shorts and tank top I wear to do laundry as i gets my ger up about a nice 89 F.

Come back in, take off outer clothes and, just like the song, repeat steps 1 through 3. After ll clothes are hanging up to dry the tumpens dumped, dirty bucked dumped, and water wiped up off the floor, it is time to lie down exhausted.

I really like that my blog spellchecks tumpen and wants to make it tampon.

Patrick leaves Arvaikheer tomorrow. Both he and Amber are going to America! for christmas. Amber left on Friday, so Thursday night I had all 4 of my sitemates over to my ger for Blueberry Pancakes (both Vegan and not-so-much) and French Toast (with syrup!) and a few coctails. The good thing about hosting is you don't have to walk home in the cold afterwards, the bad part is dishes. All in all, a good time was had by everyone!

It looks like I am for sure going to Darkhan for Christmas. A big thank you to Steph and Ryan for hosting! I am psyched. I will only be gone about 5 days, but it will be a nice trip. I might try to take my cat to the vet to get fixed in UB on the way there or back.

10 points if you know where this blog title came from.

I miss you all! A big hug to my Redmond relatives! Sorry I can't be there. love, C

Saturday, December 12, 2009


My grandpa died. My school internet won't work, otherwise I would post a pic of him. I wish I could go home. I wish i could be with my mom. I love you all. love, C

Monday, December 7, 2009


Thank you Dr. and Donna Burns! I love the long underwear and the magazine and the peanut butter and the calender and the notecards and EVERYTHING!

Thank you Aunt Casey! one word: COFFEE! Thanks also for the hat and the scarf and the battery charger and the converter and the adapters and EVERYTHING!

Thanks mom for old pants! And the granola bars and garden burgers and Velveeta! and EVERYTHING!

You make me so happy! love, C

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Back from Outer Space

Wow, is it good to be back in Arvaikheer! I am so happy to have my little kitty and my little ger. Not that my bug city adventure wasn't fun...

The Thanksgiving meal at Star Apartments was very nice. The food was great as was the company. I sat by Paul, our medical officer extraordinaire, his wife and their charming daughters. The little girls are so sweet, it made me miss my baby sisters ever so much. The new Ambassador sat with us for a while as well. He enjoyed the corn I brought. He will probably be talking about it for years to come. After the meal, a bunch of us PCVs went out, but as everything closed at 9, in accordance with the Swine Flu restrictions, nobody could get too wild. ;)

Sunday morning I went to Cafe Amsterdam for some internet and Pain Au Chocalat with a Mocha. I them preceded directly to Nayra's for lunch with some PCVs. I ran some errends in UB and later watched The Proposal at another guest house.

Monday we had to be at the Peace Corps office at 7:45 am to leave for IST (In-Service Training). I ended up getting there at 7:30 so I could check my mailbox and what-not, but the bus wasn't ready until 9:30, giving me time to read half of Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul. I hate those books. bleh!

IST was a great opportunity for us to spend time and learn the samethings as our CPs (counterparts). My faithful CP Tungaa came, and I feel like we got a lot of good information. It was an exhausting week though. Everyday we started at 8 and didn't finish until 6 and then often had another session at 8. Our sessions ranged from Language to Experience Sharing to Self-Defence to Project Design and Management. The hotel was nice and every room had a bathroom with a bathtub. I took a hot bubble bath everynight we were thee and actually woke up at 6:15 on our last morning so I could take a final bath before we left. My poor PCV BFF Katie had a cough all week and poor Caitlin shared a room with her. Hahahaha I am still feeling a little sleep deprived.

Our last night at IST, our CPs oragainzed a dance for everybody. It was alot of fun. It was hilarious to see the Mongolians trying to circle up to dance (which is how all groups of Mongolians dance-in one big circle) and the Americans trying to prevent this from happening. About every 15 minutes or so, the music would suddenly stop and the lights would come on and it would be time to play a game. This got increasingly more hilarious to the Americans who would be dancing and suddenly have no music and be in a brightly lit room. The games included a race between teams to get certain articles of clothing including a belt, a sock, a bra, and a pair of man's underwear. Another game had a pen tied to a string hooked to the back of the particpants pants who had to try to get the pen in a beer bottle on the floor. All very hilarious. We also had 3 of the male CPs dress in thier black long underwear with towels around thier waists performing a quick ballet. It was very entertaining night.

Saturday I had some more errends to run in UB, ate a Twilight with about 15 PCVs around a tiny table and stayed back at Khongor guest house. We left a 7 am Sunday morning and were able to get seats on the bus back to Arvaikheer. We arrived at around 2:30 in the afternoon. Last night I did a little laundry as everything I own is now dirty, unpacked, and got ready for the week. I watched PUSH, a movie I bought in UB, which was bad and gave my smelly cat a bath and then comforted her for hours. I am looking forward to going to Loving Hut for lunch and picking up my package from the post office! All in all, I am very happy to be back. I miss you all! love, C

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Yum Yum!

Less than 24 hours in UB and so far I have eaten:
French Fries
Pepperoni and Spinach Pizza
Vanilla Milk Shake
2 Iced Mochas
2 Long Island Iced Teas
3 Pancakes
2 strips of bacon
1 piece of jelly bread
yum yum

I took a shower this morning! It was amazing! It was my firt real shower since October 24th ish! It felt so good!

Last night we went to a bar called Twilight. Edward Cullen was not there :( but Long Island Iced Tea was!

I am currently at Nayra's. I just ate pancakes and now I am using the free wireless internet. I love it!

The guest house I am staying in is really nice. I am staying in a room with 8 beds, but only 5 people are there so far. I am sure it will fill up as more PCVs come into town. I am on the bottom bunk and am actually really enjoying it. It is my first time staying in a hostel and it is exactly as I imagined it. And did I mention the shower!

We watched Romeo and Juliet last night. That is such a good movie!

Hopefully, Karaoke and Indian food tonight for Amber's birthday. Tomorrow to PC office for student load BS and other various business and then I need to make something for the big Thanksgiving meal! Woohoo!

Love to all! Happy Thanksgiving! love, C

The pictures are of PCVs reuniting at Nayra's pizza and cafe! So much fun! love, C

Monday, November 23, 2009

Smelly Cat!

I can now play Smelly Cat on my guitar! I am such a rock diva! Polly responded so much to my music genius, that I started to call her Phoebe, we shall see if that sticks. I was laughing so hard at my ability to play a song!

I am so excited to go to UB! I am going to eat food and drink decent coffee and have some big city fun! "Just a small town girl..."

I have so much to do before I leave:
~buy meat for Phoebe
~finish packing
~go to ATM
~give money to Tungaa
~pay bill at Loving Hut Restaurant
~wash tiny load of laundry
~return LOTR to the library

Woohoo! I will most likely not update until I come back, so around the 7th or so. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone! Happy Birthday Mom, I am so glad you borned! love, C

46°16'19.21"N 102°46'15.27"E I live here!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Frozen Orange Juice

Yum! There are very few things in this world greater than making my ger 90 degrees and then eating frozen orange juice with a spoon while watching the latest season of The Office.

School is officially set to start again on Monday! And then I am leaving on Wednesday for UB. Our In Service Training will start next Monday and is 6 days long. We will have most of our sessions with out counterparts that are coming with us. My wonderful counterpart, Tungaa, will be coming with me me. We are going to stay at a hotel outside of UB, but I will have a few days to experience more the city, eat some good food, go shopping, and maybe to a movie. How excited am I!?! Hoodoo girls goes to big city. I am going to try to not spend too much money, but am excited to have so many opportunities to blow some cash!

Brandon is in from his soum for a few days, so we are planning on getting together tonight for a game or two of Settlers. I have yet to win, but tonight may be my night. Wish me luck.

Yesterday I received two fabulous packages from the land of plenty! I was, to say the least, overjoyed. The first was from my fabulous Aunt Sue! So a big thank you to my favorite Cheboyganites! (Cheboyganins? Cheboyganords? Cheboyganians? mmm) Seriously, packages make me really like my life here! The other was from my good friend Mr. Logan Cates Carroll, a gentleman and a scholar, and his lovely mother. That package had, among other things, much needed guitar equipment and instructions as well as a Peace Corps Service amount of cinnamon and more hot chocolate than you could shake a stick at! Seriously, I tried to shake a stick at all the hot chocolate packets, and the stick wouldn't shake! It was quite the phenomenon! Thank you so much!

Allison spent the night in my ger last night. We watched The West Wing (Which I love!) and it gave her a chance to experience ger life. (She has a swank apartment with a broken toilet! Lucky! hahaha!)

I decided to sleep on my bed when it is in the couch position. I think I might be warmer and I only really use that side of my bed anyway, as it has the camp pad from my dad on it. I hope it works and I don't fall of and Polly has enough room too!

I just put perfume on by rubbing one of the magazine adds on my wrists and neck from a June 2008 issue of GQ. Still smells good!

I miss Tom Robbins.

I need to learn how to say "Please make a fire and feed my cat everyday while I am gone" oh dear

Weeeell, I am off to go thrifting with Patrick. I would like another hoodie, so I can have one just for sleeping and one for running, chopping wood, eating and other activities that might get it dirty. Somehow it is ok to wear a semi-dirty sweatshirt for days and days, but I need a clean one to sleep in.

Which reminds me, thanks especially for the new brassiere Aunt Sue. I took a special shower on a non-shower day, just so I could be clean to wear it for the first time!

Ok, thrift store I go! Love to all! Love, C

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Madeline and Claire

People who are unselfish and loving and giving. All the time! And Maggie too!

Not much going on here in Arvaikheer. School is still closed, but I am still staying active. So many movies to watch, books to read, pictures to color, wood to chop, plus I have a cat to play with.

The PCVs here in Arvaikheer have been meeting quite often. Patrick and I ran a speaking group at Loving hut and then played pool and ping-pong afterward, which was fun. Turns out, I am not so good at ping-pong, but I make up for it with enthusiasm. That's what counts.

At Isabella's restaurant last night we discovered the many different ways my sitemate Esayes can move his tooshie. My favorite is when he slams the two sides together "like thunder!"

Other things we have done to pass the time
-State naming contest (Patrick won, but he cheated!)
-Coming up with sentences that no one has ever said before. ie (The Lesbians just finished building their condo on the moon)

Check out my new photos at this link

Monday, November 9, 2009

Three Pairs of Pants!

And still I have cold thighs! Brrr.

School is still out, but I am managing to be very entertained with various forms of laziness.

My site visit is Friday, so a clean ger I must create.

My sitemates and I watched The Interpreter last night. Amber jumped a lot. I had seen it before, but enjoyed it none the less. Cold walk home afterwards though.

I hope we can still go to UB for thanksgiving and training. The Mongolian government doesn't want people to travel right now, so we shall see.

A big shout out to Aaron (and Mike) in Iowa. Good luck and be careful. Poor Gabb is all alone, go hang out with her Susie!

A big thank you to Aunt Casey and Mom for the recent packages and another one for my peeps at the PAC! I love flavoring my life with taco seasoning!

A bug howdy to my dad. You are swell!

I miss everyone!

I could see my breath in my ger this morning! My eyelashes froze on my walk to work. Brrr!

I tried to upload a Halloween Pic of me, I hope it worked.

I love you all! Thanks for all the support! Love, C

Thursday, November 5, 2009

personal projects

School is still closed, at least for another two weeks. So, I have been working on personal projects. Like crocheting and making Christmas presents and watching tv and movies and chopping wood and coloring and brainstorming and writing and reading and staring into space. I am actually filling the time pretty well.

Halloween was fun. I dressed up like an evil doll and Patrick, my site mate, was a geisha, and Esayes was a Mongolian Black Santa, and Allison was the couch. Amber has pics, so maybe I can get them and post them later.

Not much else is going on. Site visits are next week and then soon after that we are going to UB for Thanksgiving. I am really excited about that.

I miss you all very much. My mom sent me a pair of my sweatpants and they smelled like home. It was great. I love you! love, C

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Still here

Hey, school should be back later this week. I am still here and enjoying my free time, but feeling pretty useless. A better update to come when I have my internet back. Love, C

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mongolian Wedding

Well, I guess it was actually the day after the "jinkin" (Mongolian for true) wedding, but who is counting. It was me. I was counting. I was counting 35 people in one ger. There were two men refusing to take no for an answer when offering airag (fermented mare's milk), vodka, or the more potent Mongolian vodka. And there was one American, whose actions were all very amusing to everyone else there. I ate some soup. sang a Mongolian song, drank the mandatory 3+ shots of vodka, got airag spilled all over my pants, and watched a friend pour her vodka on the floor behind her chair. When someone tried to give me some Mongolian vodka, I figured it was time for me to announce I had to leave and high-tailed it out of there. It wasn't until the cool air slapped my face and I saw the incredible sunset that I realized it was 7:15 and I was pretty intoxicated. This, on top of the fact I wasn't exactly sure where I was, was sure to make my walk home pretty enjoyable. Imagine my relief a mere 15 minutes later when I realized the road I was approaching was in fact the road that runs to my house. At least I got of easy, some weddings are in the countryside and can turn into affairs that last for days. The bride, by the way, is one of my school's staff members. The couple have been living together for some time and have two sons. I am not sure why this was deemed the time to have the actual celebration, but I am glad I got to be a part of it. Even if I did have a pretty big headache in the morning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sisters! and no school!

Madeline, I hope you have a fun weekend. Please be good! Go to Fort Fear, Dylan will scare the pants off you! I miss you bunches and love you tons!

Claire, I am pretty sure I know you right! Silly goose. Mongolia is good, although not great because you are not here! It is starting to get cold, although I have heard it will get a lot colder! Princess Polly Potato is great. She thinks it is funny to play in the coal bin. If it gets too cold at night she bites my ear, so I get up and make a fire. Thank you for your support. It means a lot to me. I miss you tons and love you bunches!

My counterpart just told me we will not have class until next Friday. The school will be closed for a week to prevent the spread of swine flu. I have no idea what I will do. Or when I will be on the internet again. Or what else will close. Exciting!

Anyway, miss you all a lot and love you even more! love, C

spooking girlfriend

I am getting better and better at chopping wood. I do much better when I don't have Mongolians watching me, which makes 6:30 am a very good time. The sun is just coming up, the air is crisp and cool (ie freezing, but lets stay positive!) and my spirits are up. I have really come to love mornings here. (Please still be my friend Gabb, we can like different things...)

I drank the last of my Horizons Organic Vanilla Milk boxes on the way to work today. (listening to Elvis Costello and smiling at the sunshine) It was so good I couldn't even be sad it was the last one.

I broke my extension cord today. My sunglasses were all fogged up and I stepped on the plug. Oh well, off to the market I go.

One of my school's staff members passed away today. I didn't know the person. Without sounding too self-centered, I really hope I don't do anything culturally inappropriate.

Anyway, I love this having internet thing! And I miss you all.

love, C

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wow, that last post was long

I wonder what length this one will turn out to be. We shall see.

I got sick, again. I hope it is not the flu, I feel like I have been sick 60% of the time since I got to site. Also, I feel guilty burning coal, but I have this attachment to all ten toes.

I have been watching quite a bit of tv since I have felt under the weather. Extras is brilliant, Entourage is great, Bad Boys was awful yet entertaining, Be Kind Rewind was odd, but not terrible, Talladega Nights was predictable but the outtakes were great.

Polly gets angry when she is not fed. I must remember to feed her at night so she doesn't wake me at 6 am.

I chopped a bunch of wood. I felt really tough. hahaha Like Buffy.

If you are in the Rapid City area, you should go to Fort Fear, by Reptile Gardens. I wish I could.

Ate at Loving Hut again today. Had some pea,bean,tofu,delicious soup and some no-fish sushi. It was delicious. I ate with Melinda who is a VSO volunteer from Australia. Her partner just got here and is hiking around, but will be back in town next week. He is French so I plan to embarrass myself by speaking some horrible French with him.

Leslie and Nathan are in America until next Wednesday. Nathan may bring me back a shooter of Malibu Rum which would of course elevate him to God among en status. The villagers would sing his praises for years to come.

Did I tell you I burned my hand. I was making toast to put peanut butter on. There is no gain without loss. It is all scabbed over, but Polly keeps scratching it. Then it bleeds. Serving my country is riddled with dangers.

Claire, remember when you got your ears pierced? I have like a hundred pics of that. You are pretty cute. I miss you!

Madeline, Don't grow up to fast without me. I miss you!

I miss you all! love, C

Friday, October 16, 2009

Because I can!

2nd post in one day! Why? please see title.

I am not sure why this is italisized, just accept it. Unless it isn't on your screen, the just accept it not being italisided.

Run down of my day

0630 Polly bit ear. Why? who knows. Got up and peeed (is that how you spell that, really?) in a bucked and turned on my space heater as I was running out of wood. Tried to go back to sleep.

0645 Polly not leaving me alone. Went for run.

0715 Running is hard. It makes me tired. Eat breakfast (Instant MACcereal, peanut butter toast, and Instant coffee...it's really starting to grow on me.) and get dressed while watching 2 episodes of Enterauge, awesome show. (I get some sort of sick pleasure from watching people swim in a pool that is in their house and drive ridiculous cars whilst I live in a tent. ) Feed Polly, kiss Polly, and bundle up)

0840 Leave for work. Rocking out on my ipod, drinking organic vanilla America Rules! milk, with a spring in my step. My last stretch of my commute goes along a road with a semi-intact curb. This is exciting because I walk down the curb like a very-bundled, huge backpack weilding tightrope walker. This gets me no more stares than walking like a normal person, so I say what the hell.

0900 Arrive at work. I had recieved a interesting text message from my counterpart that deffinately had the word internet in it, which made me hope that today might be the day we get internet inour office. Also, yesterday, my office was locked with a new lock that I don't have the key for...I was interested to see what this day would bring.

0915 found counterpart Tungaa. She took me to our new office. It was Dent's office and now it will be Tungaa and Caitlin and Dent's office. It has internet so I am pleased. I am not sure how pleased Dent is.

1100 Must stop using the internet to have Theatre Club. We played theatre games that mostly deteriorated into chasing each other around. Which is fun so again, what the hell! Lets run around. PLus most of the physical education seems to be marching in place, so games are good.

1200 Walk home. Comfort Polly. Get wood from haashaa family, woohoo! I love making fires! Take off a shirt, it is starting to warm up!

1245 Walk to Loving Hut restaurant. Vegetrian restaurant I can't get enough of. Eat with sitemates Patrick and Allison. Mostly discuss the end of the world 2012? or not? and how awesome my internet office having is. It is
Legen ~wait for it~ dary!

1345 Meat sitemate Esayes for coffee and quick convorsation. He is about to turn in his grad school applications so congrats are in order.

1430 Leave for work. See above for curb walking discription. Dodge marching PE students, which is easy, because they march in place.

1440 arrive at work. 10th grade dance is cancelled due tyo Swine Flu threat. Everyone is wearing cloth masks. Most are white, but some really cool kids have colored ones. Well, in my head they are the cool kids, i actually have no idea what the student social hierarchy is like. I could only find a white one, but colored it purple with a crayon from my patient appointment center BFFs. I think the crayon will add an extra layer of germ protection and I wanna be cool at at least one high school before i die. hahaha
play on internet, since no dance.

1530 Internet goes out. I don't care though. I have an office that is conected to the internet when internet is available! Hours and Hours of internet lie in my future. Read Lord of the Rings and brainstorm things to do on the internet that are relevent to my job.

1650 Internet back on! Write seconf blog post of day rather than do the things that were brainstormed to do that would be relevant to my job. And here we are!

My plans for the rest of the day are as followed.

1800 Team teach Life skills class. This is our first session with these students, so it will be an introduction. We had are first session withthe tuesday group on ...um...Tuesday. It went really well. There was a draw a piture thing that i am not really sure what the goal was of that, i think it was apicture of the hopes and dreams. I hope todays goes as well.

1900 Go to Amber's house for some mixed drinks and Settlers playing. Settlers is the game to play in Peace Corps Mongolia and I have never played so I need to learn before Thanksgiving, when there will be undoubtedly a tournament. Amber has also promised cookies and brownies, bless her pointed little head.
Amber, if you are reading this, 1. you need more to do and 2. that is just an expression of my mothers, not a slight on the shapre of your head. I have personally always thought you had a fine shaped head. My mother is just a kook, what can I say? Mom, I bless your pointed little head and all the pointed little heads of your offspring. Hehehe That kinda makes it sound like your offspring have multiple pointed heads. Camber, GrammarGirl! how do I fix that grammatically so that everyone is aware that we, her offspring, only have one head. A piece that is, not one head all together. Oh, bother.

Time unknown- walk home in the freezing cold hopefully while thinking it is toitally worht being this cold for some good company in my native tongue. Make a fire while complaining loudly to Polly of the cold. As if she doesn't know, been alone since noon with no fire, what a bad mom I am. If only I could teach her to make a fire, that would be the hot sauce on the meal of life.

Goi to bed while listening to my audiobook.

Saturday I will do laundry, which I am starting to love. I watch Rome and use warm water and it makes my ger smell nice. I have a fire going to heat the water and it is so warm and cozy anbd it makes me think of Charlie Buckets' mother before he finds the golden ticket. I will also have my first English Class at Dandaa monastery across from my haashaa. I am goping to teach Mongolian Buddhist monks english. Thats a gonna make a good story, who gets to say they did that? um..just me. Other weekend plans are as of yet nonexistent. I imagine eating at Loving Hut, sweeping, and watching a movie may occur. Until then, I hope you have enjoyed this production of a Day in the Life of an American Peace Corps Volunteer Social Worker Youth Development Good Will Worker Person. It was supported by a grant for the Katherine T. McArthur Foundation and from Readers like you! love, C

PS Wish List has been updated.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Office with Internet!

I have internet in my office! I am so happy. Actually, we moved to the office with internet and now I share with two other people, but we have internet so I am thrilled.

I was shrieking with laughter as I opened my package from the Patient Appointment Center. My cat was freaking out and jumped in the box. I fell over laughing when I pulled out the 2 year supply of taco seasoning. I want my life to be taco flavored.

I miss everyone so much, but I often really like my life here. This morning I was walking to work, drinking Vanilla Organic Milk, rocking out to my ipod, and loving my life. Then I got to work and I had internet. Praise the internet gods!

Off to theatre club. Woohoo!

Mom, we climbed up to the Russian Friendship Monument during consolidation. I felt very friendly to the Russians and watched Anastatia as a celebration.

Madeline, Remember your promise!

love, C

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Packages are the best!

I just got a package from my best friends at the patient appointment center so big I will have to call a taxi! Thanks guys you are the best! Setiously, it is really appreciated, you have no idea. I can't wait to open it!

This keyboard I am using no longer has the letters on the keys. Except Q ans W.
***mini celebration of Q and W***** qwqwqwqwqwqwwqwqwwqwqwqwqwqwqwqwWQWQWQWQWQWQWQWQ
I really need the labels. This is difficult.

I also got a package from my mom on monday! It is like Christmas morning for Mary Marsh! (Well, actually more for me than anything.) I actually might get internet in my office soon! I miss talking to my friends alot!

ok, I can't take this keyboard anymore! Good night and good luck! love, C

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Consolidation is a go!

I am at Patrick's ger for the fabled consolidation. This is the time where we practice our emergency action plan. Since it took me an hour and a half to get across town, I must be very bad at emergencies. I assure you all that I would not stop for orange juice and chocolate if it were not a drill. Drills demand chocolate. Patrick, Amber, Allison, and I are all accounted for. Esu is in UB. Brandon and Terrence are on their way. Eggs are cooking, the fire is smoldering, and life is good.

Madeline, Boys are bad. Their badness is only compounded by cars. Beware.

Kate, Glad you like the pics. I will try to figure out my battery situation and take more. Smart wool pants would be much appreciated. Tell your friends and family. Christmas is coming.

Camber. I think it is actually physics. Just so you know. Also, when will you come? I have a floor for sleeping with your name on it!

Mom, Amber's thing fell of her wall. Her nails were not strong or stiff enough. They did not go in far enough. At east, that's what she said. hahahaha

Thank you loyal readers!
love, C

Drugs are bad

Turn's out the ham that was on the plates as garnish at the vegetarian restaurant is actually soy. I thought it was really funny, but now it is just typical. I wanted to go to the vegetarian restaurant and eat ham and laugh...at least I still get to go to the vegetarian restaurant and eat. it is so good. it had been open three days and i have eaten there 4 times. yep, twice yesterday. Both for lunch. Do to the time difference... hahahaha

I just looked at the Grey's Anatomy website. Mistake. *tear*

Damn, it feels good to be a volunteer. hi Jennie.

This post is kinda fractured, sorry. I didn't really have anything to say, but I like getting comments from my posts, and I am Amber's apartment, so here is a post. I feel pretty homesick today, but still having a really good day. Does that make sense? I am really glad my sitemates, Amber and Patrick, are back. Esu went to the city, so not everyone is here, but it is nice to see those that are. Tomorrow might be consolidation, which means everyone in our region has to get together and see how long it takes us as a practice of emergency proceedure. I hope so, no work, and hanging out all day! Woohoo.

I can't believe it is almost time for my friend Andy to go back to the US. he has been in Rwanda for almost a year and is awesome. i keep trying to convince to come to Mongolia before heading to North America, I mean, it is practically on the way.
Andy, if you read this, i am proud of you! You are swell!

I miss you all soooosoooo much! love, C

PS Shout out to my wonderful sisters. I love you so much. Try not to drive mom crazy while I am gone. I prefer her at her current level of sanity. I left her that way and I expect her to be that way when I return. Take care of each other and don't forget to miss me. Drugs are bad. See, I am such a good sister. love, C

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Camber Carpenter

Damn you! Seriously folks, her blog is much more entertaining than mine. Every time I read it I feel intense pressure to make my readers laugh. Add more humor. Like some diabolical Ben Stiller dressed as a monkey is dancing around me yelling "Be funny, Caitlin, Be funny!" (Dance Derek Dance Monkey!) How can anyone possible compete with such wit and whim and vigor and vivaciousness and other words that start with v and w?

I just watched the first season of Big Love. Super awesomeness! Just had the opening of the youth development room at my school and the new vegetarian restaurant, not related.

Kate, get a facebook. Otherwise, IDk. The link worked for my dad.

Loves to all! C

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pics and Back Pain and Clean Clothes

I posted more pics on Facebook, here are the links.


This Pics are from swearing in as a Peace Corps Volunteer, coming to Arvaikheer, and many of my cat. She is just so darn cute! There is also a picture of my outhouse especially for you dad!

My back hurts 'cause I did a bunch of laundry yesterday by hand. But, on the upside, I have clean clothes! Woohoo. I have been watching a fair amount of movies and tv that I have on my new external hard drive, so I am feeling really entertained. I wanted to send a shout out to my best bud Dylan! He is a greatly generous young man and I love him! You rule dude!

It was so nice to be able to talk to all the people that I got to talk to on the inter these past couple of days! I miss you all! love, C

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


So Amber is out of town and has graciously offered to let me stay at her place and use her internet. My plan is to finish up work at 6 and be online until I can't keep my eyes open anymore. Then wake up and use a it a little more. I am super excited. I brought Polly over so she can become friends with Amber's Kitty-boo. So far, Polly who is about half Kitty's size, appears to dominate. We shall see how the night goes.

12 hours later:
I have just spent close to 6 hours on the phone and 6 hours sleeping. Whew! Internet is fun! If I didn't call you, it is not because I don't love you, but rather because I had to talk to my family for much of my time. It was awesome! The only downside is Amber's apartment is cold and I forgot my purse, so I have no money and hence no food. But being hungry and cold is worth it for so much internet.

Everything is going well here. Sometimes things are really hard or frustrating, but something great always happens to make up for it. I just had a session yesterday with teenage girls to talk about Self Esteem that was great. I don't think anyone had ever talked about this with them before and I think it really went well. I will try to post pictures later this week, I promise. Thanks for all the support! love, C

Friday, September 25, 2009


Spiders and
Brandon and people from Poland. Polly loves having the guests, including the spiders. I only like the Polish and
American varieties. My new polish friends have been staying with Peace Corps Volunteers all across Mongolia and are super nice.
Brandon is up from his soum (village) as are all the other nearby soum PCVs. I really like having guests and having my routine disrupted and I really like having my routine back when they leave. It makes me realize how much I like my life when it changes. Brandon sprung for the wireless internet, so I am using internet in my ger for the first time. This is so something I could do, but I feel like it is a giant world that is too big for my little ger, and I can always go to someone elses house or a internet cafe. I got a package today! It is from you Dad. I was super excited, especially since now I can copy all of
Brandon's tv shows. Seriously my life just became really full of entertainment opportunities. I like thinking of how I can use every part of the package. It makes me feel like the sioux with the buffalo. I will use the straps holding the blankets in a role to hang things from my rafters. I will use the carboard as kindling to start rockin' fires.
Beef Jerky bags for trash after I eat all the jerky. This week I started my clubs at school. Some were really successful, others, we will try again next week. I have English, Life Skills,
Book, and Theatre Clubs. I also tutor the English Competition level students for the upcoming English Olympics. I just found out it is almost October! Holy Cow! Thnaks for all the stateside support! love, C

Monday, September 21, 2009

I feel all floopy

I am not sure why. But not in a bad way. Plus I have FRIENDS to watch. So that is good. Short post due to the floopiness. I love you guys

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Feedback on Packages

So the packages have been amazing, I don't know if I have said that enough. Seriously, my sitemates have heard me say it so many times, I think they would hate me if I didn't keep giving them fruit rollups and things when they come over. I thought I could offer some feedback, so people who are the greatest and wish to send things will have more of an idea of what works and what doesn't. For examples, Gushers tend to pre-gush before reaching destination. I told them not to feel bad, it happens more that people think. I honestly could never have enough Beef Jerky and Peanut Butter. Lemon Bread sent by the g'rents was amazing. I was a fraid it would go bad so I kept inviting people over to have some, but everyone is really busy, so I have eaten most of it by myself. I am full and happy. Also, those fiber one PB and Oats bars are so so so good. They taste almost like some PB and Oat bar you used to make grandma, I seriously almost cried. They made the list, they were so good. (PLease see updated list to the right) The CDs you sent Kate are great,if not a little strange. The movie (Rear Window) is too scary to watch in my ger alone. I loved it, but had trouble sleeping. I live in a tent in the middle of nowhere people! Only movies about frolicking unicorns please! (hahaha Just Kidding!)
The packages really make my whole week whern they come! The lady who works at the post office calls my phone and I just start skipping for joy!

Things here are good. Still trying to find a routine, which may actually continue for the next two years. I have been sick this week, but saeem to be in the upswing. Fluids, rest, and Jimmy Stuart inmortal danger are the key. One of my sitemates just gave me Twilight, so I will have entertainement for a while. There is something about that movie, I could watch it over and over again. I miss you all!
ps Camber there are vehicals from UB to me i assure you!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jesus Christ

Superstar. "everything's alright, yes, everything's fine"
Camber, come visit me! My mom is coming next summer, not sure when and I amy have to go home for Jennie's wedding unless I can convince her to wait for me, but I would love to have you visit anuother time. Actually come to think of it, you could come at the same time as my mom if that is is the time that it workss best, it just might be more fun to have two different times to entertain my favorite people. Woot!
Dad, woohoo for the package, I am psyched to get it. Also, I cut the top of my knuckle off, blood was everywhere, you would have passed out. It seems to be healing ok, so hopefully no lasting damage. I will probably have a dent though and an awesome scar. cool beans
Gabb, you are my favorite and I am glad you adopted a frog. See, you too are making a difference in the world. Hurry up and learn how to write a thesis so if I go to grad school you can teach me. Hahahaha.
Aaron-did you check with Respec? Did you name drop? Did you mention you bowl? hahahaha!
Mom- I can't remember exaclt why the sky is blue, something about the color scheme being displaced by sunlight and blue has the lowest frequency so that is the color we see. So in a sence it is not actually blue, that is just the way we percieve it.

I am sick. Sore throat and achy and tired and gerouchy. (I liked that spelling mistake, so I left it in grandpa) Brandon, who is an M19 (i.e. has been here a here)and lives in a soum (tiny town) nearby stay at my ger for the weekend. It was great fun, people came over and watched Lord of the Rings. Polly, my cat, likes company. More hands and feet to attack! Poor guy had to sleep on the floor though...not a lot of room. I am glad I usually live by myself, but it was great to have an actual person to talk to. Well, apparently skyoe is going to work on this computer, so I am going to go find another. Then go home and make some soup and eat some goldfish. (The crackers, danny!) love, C

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

yes, everything's fine!

10 points for anyone who knows where the titles of this post and the last one come from. I got two packages yesterday! Two! My heart just leapt and everything seemed so much brighter! Seriously, it was the best I have felt since I got to Arvaikheer. Not that I have been feeling bad, just normal, but yesterday I was ecstatic! I am going to update the wish list two the right based on the things I know have thanks to two wonderful aunts I have! Thank you so much Casey and Kate, the packages were wonderful. I feasted last night on fruit rollups and beef jerkey and hot chocolate and had oatmeal for breakfast and look forward to goldfish for lunch. I had actually just over lunch gone to the post office and given the woman there my number and tried to communicate that I would like it if she called or texted if a package came for me. A mere 3 hours later I got a call that had a lot of mongolian words in it, but one I recognized. Shoodan means post office so I repeated it and she said yes! Then when I got there and there was two I just about vomited happiness! The magazines and the movie and the school supplies and the nicest pencil sharpener I have ever seen and the list goes on and on!
I have been steadily trying to figure out more of what I will be doing here. Yesterday I taught to english lessons, one to my schools director and managers and one to some non-english teachers. (Like math, I think) That was exciting and kind of nerve racking. At one point that wanted me to give examples of questions using the verb "to be". One of my questions was "Why is the sky blue?" After I had explained all the questions they then wanted me to answer the questions. Needless to say that one gave me pause, until I remember it is answered in one of my favorite episodes of The West Wing, so I attempted to give the scientific answer, got a lot of confused faces and ended up going with "Because it is not raining." Hahahaha
This is the first time I have managed to get my own computer on the internet and I am very happy. Last night, I also found on my computer the first 2 episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer that Madeline and I had put on my computer one day at the library. I was able to get a program from one of my site mates to play it on and watched them last night and now I am sad I do not have more. I have been spending some time organizing the books at the new English library here and some time trying to cook. Mostly, I am just so happy to go home to my little ger in the evening that I don't want to stop at the internet, so that is the reason for the lack of internet communication. Now that I am able to get on the internet at school, hopefully I will better! I miss you, keep the packages and comments coming! I miss you all! love, C

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

everything's ok

No worries people, I am well. I am very very busy and so tired when I am not busy, but I will make a big post soon. My finger is ok, i think mom! I love you guys! I hope I get a package soon! love, C

Saturday, August 29, 2009


“How do I go to the bathroom when it won’t stop raining?

Hello faithful readers! I apologize for the lack of ridiculously long and intriguing posts to test your love and your patience. But you need not wait any longer. I have a decent playlist going on my computer (Elvis Costello, Arcade Fire, The Ramones, The Young Dubliners, Buckwheat Zydeco, The Pogues, Pearl Jam, Rufus Wainwright, The Bodeans, Flogging Molly…), my feet up on the obligatory Mongolian little plastic stools, and my laundry drying optimistically outside my ger in the sun. They are hoping to dry fully before it rains again and I am humoring them.
Question: How can I feed myself when I barely know how to cook in the states and I don’t have an oven nor ingredients I am familiar with, nor lean pockets?
Arvaikheer is a swell little Mongolian town. It lacks neither on sky nor on indistinguishable little delguurs (shops) every 20 meters or so. I have found both yarn and vegetable crackers so I want for very little. (lie, lie, lies! I will spare you the extensive list of trivialities that I want, for things that can actually be sent please see the list to the left.) There is one ATM in town in the building with the 24-hour delguur. There is a couple internet cafés, neither or which is as nice as the one in Zuunmod that we go to use during training, but c’est la vie poo poo. (Hi mom!) There are some places to shower, which I have yet to use as I brought a solar shower. (Thanks Aunt Kate!) My hashaa (yard) is a 15 minute walk from most things and a 20 minute to my school. So far, I really enjoy the stroll. I can put on my ipod on shuffle and collect my thoughts. I love hearing a song and remembering where I got it, tons from my mom, Aunt Kate, my dad, and Uncle Dave, a few from Aunt Sue, Kat, Joe & Brie’s daddy, and some from my young adulthood. Almost every song makes me smile and new contributions are always welcome.
Question: Is it better to have flies everyone or be very very cold?
Ask again in a couple months when I have experienced both.
I mentioned my hashaa earlier and feel it deserves more of a description. Mongolians, if not in an apartment, often live in a hashaa, which is surrounded by a tall fence of wood or metal sheets. Inside a hashaa you will find a house and/or a ger, an outhouse, and varies other requirements. Mine has a brick house, a wooden structure (dwelling? shed?), 3 gers (the grandma’s, mine, and one made of metal which I have never seen before and have no idea what it is used for), an outhouse, a shed, a woodpile and various pieces of metal. Almost every hashaa comes with a hashaa dog, and mine is no different. His name is Aslan which means lion which is really interesting if you are a CS Lewis fan. He seems uninterested in biting me which is great and actually seems to like me, but I don’t throw rocks at him so there you go. I am hopefully going to get a cat in the next few days from my counterparts sister. Mongolians tend to name their dogs Aslan or Nahoi, which means dog. I was discussing what I was going to name my cat with my counterpart (Tungaa) and she suggested Moor (which means cat) or Aslan. She said it would be ok even though the dog’s name is Aslan. I think I am actually going to go with Tomc which sounds like the name of the fawn in Narnia and means potato in Mongolian. This may have been the funniest thing my counterpart has ever heard.
Question: How bad is it that I love in a felt tent with a wood burning
stove in the middle and my smoke alarm won’t work?
School start Monday morning. I am apparently giving a speech in Mongolian to all the staff and students. I anticipate it being a very short speech. I hope it is sunny for at least an hour or two tomorrow so I can let the water in my solar shower heat up so my shower won’t be miserable. I am supposed to dress up for Monday and I suppose a shower wouldn’t hurt.
Question: Are cucumber and mayonnaise sandwiches a balanced meal?
I have almost watched the entirety of the West Wing…again. I am almost done with my second book since arriving in Arvikheer. I have watched 4 movies. Listened to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire AudioBook. I should find more to do, like maybe learn to cook. I have been basically surviving on cold spaghetti sause type stuff and the afore mentioned vegetable crackers. I really need to get some material to help me learn to play the guitar I randomly bought.
Fact: Mongolian milk hot with Russian chocolate powder makes me sleepy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Doug Smith

My uncle Doug passed away yesterday. He was a really great guy with a really great family. I wish I could be in Steamboat right now. It is really hard being away from everyone you love, especially at a time when you need each other. School starts next week, which will keep me busy, but I will have more access to a computer, which means longer posts, more pictures, and a happier me.
PS. When I get home, I am going to put on my last brand new clean pair of smartwool socks. I love you Aunt Casey. You are all in my thoughts... love, C

Friday, August 21, 2009

The cutest ger in all the land!

I made it to Arvakheer and to the most adorable of all gers. It is a five wall, which was a welcome suprise and it was very hot and cozy when I arrived. I am super happy with it and am extreemly hopeful and optimistic for my winterly survival. More to come later. love, C

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I has phone!

011 + 976 + 95715692 call me! love, C

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Final Center days

OK ok, sorry. I met my counterpart and she said the address in the roman alphabet is fine. No cyrillic for you! Just write the English version.
So yes, I met my counterpart. She is 24 (although because Mongolians often add a year to count the time they spent in utero, she is probably actually 23) Her name is Tungaa and I am super excited about working with her. She is the school social worker, although often in Mongolia that involves more party planning than anything. Apparently my school I will be going to has many children with special needs as well as some children that come from very poor families. I will make sure to update as soon as I get to site, probably on Friday. I miss you all! love, C
p.s. more pics!

Saturday, August 15, 2009


That is in Overkhangai Aimag. Arvaikheer is the capital and that is where I am moving to after swearing in on Wednesday! It has a population of 110,400 people. My mailing address is:

Caitlin Monahan
Secondary School #2
Araikheer City
Overkhangai aimag

2-P CуPГууЛb

Try to write both the english and cyrillic on packages or letters. It may make the difference between me getting the precious things you send or not! It can actually be fun! (weee!) The y ended up looking funny, but can actually be the same size as the other letters, as can the й. Don't alter much else. ie the capital B must remain so as it is actually a different letter than b. Thanks kids!

I just recieved my second care package look forward to getting more at my site! We are in our final days of PCT and are about to swear in to be full PCVs! I am thrilled. It turns out I will definately be living in a ger! It is only a 4 wall, so it will be small, but I am excited to have my own space. I will be a social worker in a secondary school with 3600 students, 98 teachers, 46 other workers, and 13 English Teachers! I am sure I will do a fair amount of English Teaching, but my main job is Youth Development, so clubs is definately something I will work on. The adverage classroom has 45 students. I will add more specific things to the list of wants on the left of my blog, but please make sure to send a note with all packages, pictures are also great! love, C

Friday, August 7, 2009


Here are some public links for the pics I put on Facebook. Enjoy!




Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My mother’s handwriting

When I saw the small brown package with my mother’s handwriting on it, I almost wept for joy. I wasn’t supposed to look until after class, but I snuck a peek in the meeker on the way in and there it was. A package for me! I smiled all the way through CYD sector training and ran out before everyone else, purple Leatherman in hand. The package had “via China” written on it about 7 seven times and one desperate “China! Please!” I laughed out loud. (I saved the part of the package where you wrote your return address. It just looked so friendly.) Yum yum beef jerky. Yum yum Mac and Cheese. Yum Yum Dino Maple and Brown Sugar Outmeal! A small nylon loop pot holder from my baby sister and a card that said “cakey” Also some Emergen-Cs and some peanut butter. (Which should probably be sent in a plastic bag of some sort…love and learn.) I was literally skipping.
In other news, I have moved in with my PCT BFF Katie Holder. My original family was just too busy to be home much and I am too poor to be paying for food. Katie has a queen bed and a giant room so we are pretty comfortable. They have a shower, which I used last night (It looks like a space pod, beam me up!) and hot water! It’s very “posh” corps. Her family is great. Aaw (dad) is in China, but Eej (mom) and the girls Jagaa (17) and Tuxhoo (11 yesterday!) are you and are sweet as pie. We taught them how to play Yahtzee last night and they loved it. (Remember when you bought me those Yahtzee scorecards, dad? Big Hit!)
Everyone is pretty ready for PST to be over. We are working hard to learn our acts for Swearing In on the 19th. Eight people are dancing and a couple people are singing (I am one of those who are singing.) To give us an idea of what people have done in the past, they showed us the video from last year. The M19s are a talented group of people! It will certainly be a hard act to follow. Only 10 days until we find out our site placement. I have a “perfect site scenario” in my head, which is probably a bad idea because I don’t want to be disappointed, but I can’t help it. I can’t wait to get my address so I can start getting more packages. The stuff in the packages are great, but even better is the feeling I got from being connected to home.
Fact: I got a new tumpen as the old one broke. It is blue. But still plastic.
Fact: Megan;'s mom sent homemade cookies. Baked goods are a go!
Can you believe I have been here 53 days?!?! love, C

Saturday, August 1, 2009

UB visit

Friday was the CYD’s first official visit to UB. (Here in the PC, we love our acronyms! CYD = Community Youth Development consists of 8 young women including myself. Our PST = Pre Service Training is in Zuunmod with the CED = Community Economic Development, there are 7 of them) The CEDs have gotten to go a couple of times before for business trips and some people have gone with there families, but this was my first time besides the quick stop for pizza earlier in the week. One of our LCFs (Language Community Facilitators?) Oogii came with us, so the 16 of us piled into a Meeker (Microbus with 13 seats) and headed north.
Some XC (Cross Culture) staff was waiting at the meeker station to meet us. The meeker station is a crazy dirt parking lot with meekers coming and going and drivers shouting to try and get you to ride with them, regardless of how many times you say you do not need transportation and do not want to go to Darkhan. The XC people split us up and the CYDs headed to the train station. Train, by the way, is Galt Tereg in Mongolian that literally translated as “Fire Cart” which pleases me. Also kitchen translates as “Fire Room.” The train station was pretty typical and not very exciting and apparently without bathrooms. From there we headed to the Dragon Center, which is another meeker parking lot if you are heading west, I think. This did have a bathroom for 100 Tugriks, which was well worth it. We rode city buses to and fro the Dragon Center, but had to walk significant amounts before getting picked up. I do not entirely understand the system, but it is the cheapest mode of transportation, so I will probably just wing it next time I am in Xot. (sounds like Hoht, means city, refers exclusively to UB.)
We were able to briefly visit the PC office, see some M18s who are in the process of COS (close of service) see the collection of books that you can take and return at any time (WOOHOO!) and briefly speak to Jim Carl, out CD (country director.) Here, we were able to use the nicest bathroom yet and convince Leslie to go eat with us. They pointed out some UB guesthouses or hostels on the way to the restaurant, which is where we will stay when we are in the city during our service. We ate at an American-esque restaurant. I had a BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger. I must express my pride in my digestive system at this time. Many people after pizza on Tuesday and even after lunch on Friday got sick. It’s like there systems went into shock after so much time eating Mongolian food to be presented with so much cheese and greens. My system however had no problem with 45 days of no cheese or decent caffeine to suddenly having copious amounts of both. In fact I think my stomach never felt so good in Mongolia than when there was a pound of melted cheese. I think I may actually need cheese to live a full life. (A quick shout out to Cousin Ellie, a fellow cheese lover!)
After lunch we visited Suhkbaatar Square where we saw tourists (Hey look, white people!) We also saw a wedding party and big statue of both Sukhbaatar and Chinggis. Then we went to a museum in a former Buddhist Temple. I need to learn more about Buddhism, I thought they were all about the peace, but the ceiling had all sorts of dismembered body parts painted on it. I had a book as a kid at Grandma and Grandpa’s house about a little Chinese woman the dropped her dumpling down a crack and had to visit the underworld to get it back. (Do you lovely grandparents still have this book? Do you remember what it was called?) The book fascinated me and terrified me, much like some of the imagery in the temple.
Shopping in UB is a bittersweet experience. We went to three different stores, all which sold various American type items next to their more Mongolian counterparts. Swiss Miss around the corner from a pig head. Tongues of unknown origin very near Jiffy Peanut Butter. Many of these things were things I wanted, but out of the range of a PC budget. So, I resisted the purchase of a cake mix (I don’t have an oven, but I could mix it with water and just eat it!) but did buy some cherry tomatoes. I also bought some American pens that work, a snickers ice cream bar, some gum, and a bottle of Diet Peach Snapple Iced Tea. (Alas, there was no Snapple fact, so I was unable to carry on my quest of knowledge.)
By the time we made it back to the meeker station, the CEDs had left so we shared with some Mongolians going our way and said goodbye to our hosts. Two Peace Corps interns had been with us all day and were very worried about sending 8 American girls off by themselves, but we convinced them that they needn’t ride an hour to Zuunmod with us to make sure we were safe, only to turn around and come right back to UB. We got back at 7, dirty and tired from walking a 10K around UB. I managed to do laundry and get to bed by 11. We had language Sat morning. Today is Sunday and my first day off in 2 weeks! I plan to spend it here on the Internet, napping, homework, and I may even take a shower.
Random Facts: Two weeks until place announcement. 13 days until our LPI and TAP, (Language Proficiency something? and I don’t know what TAP stands for but it is our sector training reviews…Training Assessment Performance?) Training is winding down. I am learning a Mongolian song to sing at Swearing In. I met my Host Father’s Sister’s Husband on Thursday. He lived in the states for a while and is super nice and speaks awesome English. I miss you and fruit and cheese and my Super Smart Sassy Sweet Small Sisters. I talk about them all the time. It may annoy my site mates. I don’t care in the slightest. I think about the people I love in Steamboat every day.
Home things on my mind right now: Rushmore Waterslides, Deadwood, My mom, my RCCC kids (hi Morgan’s Mom!), mom’s burritos, Rowan and Tina and Michelle, Tasha, my Super Smart Sassy Sweet Small Sisters, spillway with Allison, Karaoke with Gabb, and much more!
Here things: getting out of bed, eating a cucumber sandwich, brushing my teeth, wearing clean jeans.
It is funny how I am in Mongolia and yet my daily little life activities are pretty ordinary. It is home that has become extraordinary in my thoughts.
love, C

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wet Hot Mongolian Summer

If you have seen the movies CAMP or Wet Hot American Summer, then you have a pretty good idea what my 3 days at camp were like (only not really because I am in Mongolia). Our time at camp was supposed to be this last weekend, but as it turned out that there weren’t going to be any kids there until Sunday, our fearless leaders (Leslie and Uugana) wisely decided to have us not go to camp to get experience working with kids until Sunday, when there would be actual children there. As it was, there was supposed to be 70 kids and there were 30. This was great though as we were able to get to know the kids a little bit better than we would have if there had been twice as many. The camp is in a region called Terelch, which I have no idea how to spell but is apparently the Yellowstone of Mongolia. It was about a 2-hour drive (through UB!) from Zuumod in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Awesome rock formations, green grass, and more sky that I thought possible. We even got to see some camels on the side of the road on the way there and back. Camel by the way is Timee in Mongolian for all you South Park fans out there.
Sunday we had a scavenger hunt with the kids. The list was in Mongolian and consisted mostly of getting pictures of group members touching something specific (like a cow) or doing something ridiculous (such as 3 people doing cartwheels or making a human pyramid.) The kids (mostly teenagers) really enjoyed being the boss since they knoe Mongolian and knew therefore what we were supposed to do. Mostly they would just position Megan, my partner, and I, and then grab her camera and take a picture of whatever we were doing while we really had no idea what was going on. One of the tasks we had to do was explain s’mores to them in Mongolia. Luckily one of the kids in my group knew what a marshmallow was. We had no idea how to describe that! (I said it was a small white food ball that was sticky…I think.) Our description put it between two cookies with a small piece of chocolate. I also explained that you should only have one or two or you will get sick, which made me miss my Super Smart Sassy Sweet Small Sisters. We also played sand volleyball for a while and ate lunch, tea time, dinner, and bed time yogurt.
Monday, four people taught life skills classes (i.e. Communication, Stress Management, Planning, Decision Making, Empathy, HIV/AIDS, Relationships, ) while the rest of us observed two sessions and hung out with the kids. The kids also put on talent show that consisted of songs, poetry reading, monologues, skits, and dances. The skits were short scenes that the “director” would stop and tell them to do it with more emotion or faster or funnier after which they would do the scene again only with everyone laughing, or crying, or in top speed. A very talented young girl did one monologue with a pillow under her dirt and complaining the father leaving her and her baby crying for a father in her womb. A gifted young man sang a song, alone on the stage without accompaniment and seemingly without being embarrassed in front of his friends or being nervous. The show ended with a great group dance to a Michael Jackson medley including Beat It and Thriller. It was highly entertaining and we all loved it! More volleyball was played, more conversations were attempted, and more food was eaten. Honestly the lovely camp staff tried to feed us every 2 hours. 9 (ish) breakfast, 11 (ish) was tea, 1 (ish) lunch, 5 (ish) was tea, 7 (ish) dinner, and 9 (ish) yogurt. Our first day our fearless leaders asked the little girl that I think was the daughter of one of the kitchen staff what time breakfast would be the next day so we could make sure we were up. She replied that breakfast would be when she blew the horn in such a sassy matter-of-fact way that it made me wonder if there was a “duh!” equivalent in Mongolian. And indeed every meal happened when she blew the horn, which was a bugle type instrument that sounded vaguely like a cow farting. It was great. Between dinner and yogurt, we built a fire and made s’mores for the campers (on which was spent our entire petty cash budget for camp). We used some vaguely graham-ish crackers as well as some that turned out to be lemon flavor, some decent chocolate called Alpine Gold, and marshmallows, half of which turned out to be strawberry flavored. After s’mores we all sat around the fire and sang songs (mostly The Beatles and Mongolian songs with a little Madonna, although I did bring a little Janis Joplin to Mongolia in the form of a song of great social and political import). It was a truly magical moment sitting there with Mongolian teenagers, enjoying our lemon strawberry s’mores and each other’s company. Mongolians are very comfortable with each other, sharing chairs and leaning on each other and having there arms around each other and other small signs of intimacy. It was so heart warming to see a 17 year old boy leaning back in his a chair to lean on his friend, with his friends arms around him. There is literally no homophobia here and boys are just as touchy as girls.
Tuesday, 3 others and I taught our life skills lessons and played more games. The camp director, who is a famous Mongolian wrestler, came out as well. After two meals, two snacks, and a little more volleyball, it was time for us to say goodbye.
On the way home to Zuunmod, we stopped in UB for dinner. I had an ICED! mocha, another cup of ice, and barbeque chicken and bacon pizza. They also filled my water bottle with ice, which is still ice this morning, and I was able to buy two boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese. I went 45 days without ice and I was so happy! Seriously, I almost cried. Pizza, coffee, and ice. Plus the promise of Mac and Cheese. I was so tried and dirty and content. (Although I was pretty caffeinated for the hour ride home and apparently slightly annoyed my lovely training mates with my stimulating conversation (constant chatter). love, C