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


Deirdre said...

What a great post to read. Amd how fun to talk to you last in Casey's living room. Claire totally kicked my arse in Monopoly. I mean like she ended up with 2000 some dollars in reserve. Her and Charlotte are fast friends now. Molly and Tasha are tolerating one another fairly well.
Guess what we woke up to yesterday. Baby Bear tracks in the drive way. Pam was here for the overnight and she leaves at 0300. I hope she did not encounter the little guy.
Doug is up in the chair and just had breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day and the one he likes the best.
Taylor and Katherine are taking Claire horseback riding today. Cool. She is so excited. And tomorrow Kim will be back from Boulder and they will go tubing. So she is getting some adventure here in Steamboat.
Manny called yesterday and she was going camping and sailing with her dad and his people. So she is getting some adventure too.
I am going to get Claire rolling now and get the doggies out for a morning constitutional.
I am so glad you called and so tickled at your post. Thanks so much for updating. I miss you like sunrise. Like baths. Like coffee. Not that I miss coffee. But if I ever had to miss coffee, I would miss you more. Than coffee. Srsly.

Much much much love and kisses on the neck.


Camber Carpenter said...

I agree with momahan (see what I did there?)...great post. You paint such great pictures with words.
From your SDFWIHKN (South Dakota friend who's in Hong Kong now), fare thee well.
But not IN a well, preferably.