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 (cafĂ©) 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