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

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Katie got a package from home which contained the latest Cosmo. She read it and then let me borrow it. It was great. Full of clothes I want and food I want and useless advise and fashion tips. Then my host mom found it and wanted me tp translate the 100 sex questions for her. She loved it, I was mortified and highly amused. I gotta say translating "lube" was not something I imagined I would be doing during my Peace Corps service. (I hope this wasn't too inapropriate for you grandpa! ) love, C

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Great Water Bottle Incident

Peace Corps gave us money to buy ingredients for Friday when we were to make food at a ger. A bunch of us went to two different stores and then Katie and I went to the hospital to visit a girl who had her appendix out from Finland. Sometime during these travels, I lost my water bottle, which has been my friend through many travels. I was, to say the least, distressed.
We didn't have to meet at the school until 10, so at 9 I walked around to try and find it. I tried the Seattle Store (the girl's whose family owns the store goes to college in Seattle and speaks rocking english, so we love it), the school, and finally the large "black market" store. After much confusing discussion, the woman at the store found it behind another booth. I was so happy that I was bouncing on my heals, so the woman grabbed my arm and started bouncing too! It was such a cool moment.
So then I went back to the school and we all headed to ger. We made pizza hosher. Hosher is a mongolian staple food that involves dough wrapped around usually mutton or beef and onions and is fried in oil and is highly edible. We however, put tomato sauce and ham and green peppers and onions and Happy Cow Cheese. It was delicous and I loved it more than almost everything in the whole world. Seriously, best food in Mongolia yet! It was the best day!
Until later when I started puking...
I puked alot. I think I ate a bad egg for breakfast on Friday. I was miserble.
I walked very slowly to the post office to write this blog and call some people and now I feel like going back to bed. But am going to try to go to the shower house and take my first shower in 2 weeks. I love it here, really, I do.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Half Way through Training!

I am half way through training and am getting very excited about finding out where i will be living for the next two years and actually getting to start my job and my projects. I am also excited to stet up my own house or ger or apartment. I can't believe we have been here over a month! I am really bummong about Harry Potter and will personaly hunt down anyone who spoils something for me. I might get to see it in UB, the capital, but if not I will just have to wait to get it on DVD. I did get some new movies from a fellow PCT (thanks Cameron!) and I have a ton of work to do, so boredom is not really an issue...yet. I have yet to recieve a package that has been sent, but I am looking for it everyday! As soon as I get my address, I will post it so all you lovely people can send me as much chemically altered food as possible! We had a wicked storm last night, with hail and lights flickering. A big shout out to everyone who has commented, someday I will not have to pay for internet and so can give more personal replies! (A Shout out to Uncle Charlie! I didn't know you were reading! Thank you!) (Another shout out to my little sisters whom I love so much!) Please keep me updated on things happening in your life and know that i am with you in spirit and that I think about all you guys often! (Casey, I love you!)
love, C

Friday, July 10, 2009

Post Naadam

Naadam was great and a little frustrating. I feel like I made some cultural mistakes in a tent with some older Mongolian gentlemen, but a really could not figure out what to do with the large bowl of Airag (fermented mare's milk) they gave me and I wasn't going to drink it all. Also, after seeing the wrestling and the horse racing and eating hosher, I was ready to go but my host mom didn't want me walking around alone, so she insisted I wait for her, which ended up being far longer than i wanted to be in the dust and rain and crowds, but it was ok. We had are mispoint evalutions yesterday which was another stressful experience, but its not like they are going to send me home as a result. This is hard, and I am not great at it, and that is hard for me. Oh well. Anyway, everything is wet and muddy right now and I may just go home and watch some West Wing. I cut Brad's hair this morning, it looks great! I am quite talented. I can't get skype to work today which bums me out. Katie got two, two, TWO packages yesterday. I was so jealous. I hope I get a package soon. When did you send that one Mom? Katie gave me a fruit rollup, a packet of kleenexes and a carmex to make me feel better. It did! I played soccer in the rain today. I will try to call those you whose numbers I have soon. love, C

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Its finally here people! Today I will see the three manly spots in action. Thanks for pics madame! It makes me feel so special you took a picture of me in the D'Orsay! I will try to write a big post soon about how Naadam goes. Casey, if you are taking time to read this, know that I love and think about you all the time and mss you tons! Send me your phone number so we can talk! love, C

Monday, July 6, 2009

Comments and suggestions

Hey I love those comments people. A big shout out to you hospital people! (say hi to Morgan for me, Morgan's Mom!) Also I put a list of things i would like sent to me when i get my address, so if you want start getting a box together! love, C

Ear Infection

I am pretty sure I have an ear infection. What a weird illness to get in Mongolia. I would have thought food poisoning or rabies, but it actually kind of makes since. I haven't been able to proparly wash out my ears do to the zero water pressure. So, the medical officer is sending an irrigation system tomorrow and hopefully all will be well. That may be more info abiout my ears than anybody wanted, but there you go.
The 4th of July was good. We made hot dogs at my house and fried potatoes and drank some beer and listened to Hendricks do the national anthem live at Woodstock a couple of times, so having no lake and no fireworks it was a pretty good fourth. I also did laundry, which is boring, but was exciting to wake up on monday with clean clothes. I am proud of my camping skills, which is not something i thought about having before coming here, but all those trips to Roubaix were apparently not just for fun, but secretly preparing me for Mongolia. (ie. I can fry potatoes whikle singing a song about fried potatoes)
I went to a traditional Mongolian Opera last night randomly. It started at 6 and we left the house at about 6:10, walked there and still waited for 40 minutes for it to start. Mongolian audiences are crazy hilarious. They talk on the phone, thy talk to each other, they laugh and yell at their kids, the kids run around and climb over seats, it was very different. The show itself was really good. I couldn't really understand exactly what was going on, but i think there were 2 couples, the first of which were really in love, and the second trying to break up the others, and then they all killed each other in the end. There was intrigue, danger, and romance, and sword fighting, and wrestling, it was everything i dreamed of and more.
Mom-sorry about having to turn around and the car, huge bummer. Glad you trouped!
Caroline- I was there! When they got engaged! And they are waiting to get married until I come back!
Tom-isnt technology fun!
Dad-I miss you! Kiss Alex for me!
Grand-rents-i love you, go eat some Georges Pizza for me! Better yet, start getting a package ready to send me as soon as I get my addy! Suggestions forthcoming I love you!
love, C

Friday, July 3, 2009

4th of July

So, I figured out how to call numbers from skype, but I have no one's phone number with me, so if you want a call from Mongolia, send me your digits. It is really cheep and I love it. The other PCTs and I are going to try to find some hot dog type items and watermellon and beer coca cola today and have a little celebration. This is the first 4th in a long time I have felt like being patriotic and i am in mongolia, so i am trying to do it up right. We had to go to school for 2 hours this morning (it is saturday) to make up for 2 hours we will "miss" on tuesday to do a special presentation. I was not very pleased, but I am a trooper. I was supposed to go to a monastary last night with my mongolian family, but then it didn't happen and I am not quite sure why. Perhaps we will go another time...communication is obviously still an issue. I am going to try to go to the public baths tomorrow and start the week off clean. Apparently other PCTs had hot showers, so maybe I will get one, i think it is just a matter of timing. I am really looking forward to being placed. Living on my own and cooking my own food seems really lovely right now. Of course, my last three meels were hosher (lunch hot, dinner cold, breakfast declined) so some variety would be lovely. I miss you all! I miss food! love, C