Friday, December 10, 2010

You say goodbye

I say HELLO!!!
I'll be home for Christmas!!! That;s right folks, I am heading home. It was not an easy decision, but I fell it is the right one. I will miss many things about Mongolia, especially the firends I have made here and my cat. But the time has come, the walrus said. I leave Ulaanbaatar on Tuesday morn and arrive in Rapid City, Rapid City (TACO JOHNS TACO JOHNS!) on Tuesday night. Weirdly enough, I fly out of South Korea and land in Denver at the exact same time on the exact same date. It's freaking me out a little bit. I hope to see more of o sooner than expected and wish you all happy holidays. I cannot wait to see my baby sisters!!!!!!!!
love, C

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Incomparable Camber Carpenter

Holy Ridiculous Awesome Week Batman!!!!

For those of you who do not know Camber Carpenter, people as far away as Mongolia and Texas feel sorry for you. Camber was here for a week and we had ever so much fun. She arrived laden with luggage, which proved to be mostly full of carbs and presents for Caitlin. Apparently she was afraid of starving. Don't worry Mrs. C, she did not. We immediately shared a panini at Amsterdam cafe and then shortly after that we went to Veranda and had pasta. Camber ordered fish which was risky, but I think she liked it. Jenny I shared meaty spicy pasta. And there was some wine. Then we slept, which was boring.
Day 2
We went to Terelj National Park and Camber rode a camel with 88 Bikes volunteer Jenny and sang show tunes. We ate at the hotel I had Mid-Service Training in and they were just as rude as before, so that was fun. I had rice and egg with itty-bitty bits o' peppers, camber had rice and raisins and a tomato and cucumber salad, and Jenny had gross fishy tofu, and we all shared some bing, which is like hard tortillas only not as delicious. I like talking about food. We saw the rock shaped like a turtle and looked for the rock referred to as "Old Man Reading a Book" and may have seen it but it looked more like a lego man without a book, unless it was the stuffed horse licking a foot looking rock. Who's to know? Then we went back to UB and ate at Hazara's. Camber and I shared murgh makhan, or butter chicken, which was awesome and we all ate a crap ton of nan. Then we slept again. also boring.
Day 3
In which our two stalwalt friends head of on their whirlwind Mongolian hoodoo adventure.
After waking up quite early, Camber and Caitlin bid Jenny adieu to yieu and yieu and yieu, and head to Dragooon Tov and board the bus to Tsetserleg, Arvkhangai (the Switzerland of Mongolia) without incident. Well, not really, there are always incidents, but nothing major. Camber got sat on and harassed to buy long underwear while Caitlin taught her things about Cyrillic. Much laughter. For lunch we stopped at Sansar, otherwise known as the Pig Stop, and ate manto (steamed dough) and drank milk tea. And bought awesome cookies that are not gross, mom! Even Camber likes them!
We got to Tsetserleg around 3 and met Tim, another PCV who used to work with Camber's mom. It's a small world after all! We ate at Fairfield, the wonderful inn and restaurant owned by people who know what is delicious. Carrot bread, cake, steak sandwiches, burgers, burritos, cappuccino. I would say "UNFAIR!!!!", but I am a grown-up, so instead I say, "It sure is nice that this is here for you folks." Then we went to Tim's nice apartment and chatted for a while. Then more food. Chicken Kabobs at another restaurant!! Then more chatting. Then the boring sleep time.
Day 4
Coffee! Oatmeal! Then more conversation. Then more Fairfield. Just cake and more coffee though. And some bread to take to Marissa. Then we negotiate for a car. And by we, I mean me. I felt very proud of my minimal language skills. Don't worry Camber! I will not let drivers rip us off or take us anywhere we do not want to go!!! Yea!!! So after waiting an hour or so for more passengers, we were off! We stopped once and Tim ran around like a crazy person. He likes running. Ask him about it. He's good at it. Then we ade it to Kharkhorin, but alas, the meeker would not take us to Marissa's ger, despite my pleas and boasts of being volunteers. So Tim ran after a car to see if they would be our taxi, and fell in a ditch full of snow that looked like ground, but was in fact a ditch full of snow. But he jumped out very quickly and was barely even covered in snow and persuaded a police man to call us a taxi. Meanwhile, Marissa had started walking towards us, so we picked her up on the way. She had to sit on Tim though. We had a lot of baggage. At Marissa's ger we laughed and cooked soup and Mama's Fried Potatoes and played Password which Tim is very good at. Except when he is not. Then we got out Marissa's crack den mattress for Camber, and I made Marissa share with me, and Tim was left to find the softed bit of floor. Poor Tim.
Day 5
It was pretty cold in the morning, but Camber was a trooper and a big helper. Marissa made us breakfast and her Mongolian Dad went to find us a car (What a nice guy!!) and we played more Password! Then the car came and for a minute I was like, "wow! We will not be squished!!" Then I realized that was dumb. Our driver took us to the monastery (Erdene Zuu) and drove off will our stuff. I was completely confident he would come back...almost. We looked around and I bought a Buddha necklace and some pretty earings because my hair is still pretty short and I wear earrings to be more girly. Tim bought a really old prayer book. I told the lady who sold me my necklace to wear gloves, so she put some on. I am a good influence. Then we went outside the compound to wait for the car and discovered some Mongolian dogs are nice and giant wood doors to a Buddhist temple are fairly decent heat conductors, and feel awesome when you put your face on them. Also, it makes Mongolian laugh. Then our car came with 4 more people in it and we will off!
After some Password in the car and much giggling which I am sure Tim appreciated being in the middle of, we stopped and dropped off one of passangers on the side of the road, and Tim moved to the back to sit next to Stinky McDrunkerson. Once in Arvaikheer, we dropped all out stuff of at my ger and went to sitemate Babila's apartment for a 5 course meal. Yum. He bought an exercise bike that I look like a midget riding. All 5 resident PCVs were there, plus Erin from a tiny soum, Marissa and Tim. Most of the VSO volunteers, and a few Mongolians. Much fun was had by all.
Tim, Camber, Joyce, and I took a cab to Joyce's apartment to get Babette la chat, then continued on to my ger, sans Joyce. Then we had to go on a wood hunt adventure and found wood and coal! Yipee!
Day 6
It was not cold in the morning due to the coal. I made french toast and then the 3 of us went to climb up to the Russian Friendship Monument, which was pretty, and windy. After climbing down and finally finding a taxi we had to convince the bus man to sell us tickets for the bus the next day, which he did not want to do. But did eventually. More food at Loving Hut and much more laughter ensued before once again boring sleep.
Day 7
Tim got up early was driven to the bus station by our good friend Oyunchimeg so she could explain that he only wanted to ride as far as the Pig Stop. I was confident in his ability to fanangle a ride back home. Which he did no problem. Camber and I went to Bookbridge which was closed, my school which was boring, and the museum which was awesome. Then more food at the new fried chicken place. And back on a bus. This time for lunch at the Pig Stop we ate the Spicy Thai Tuna thing my mom sent me with crackers, which was awesome. And bought more awesome cookies that are delicious and not awful.
We arrived in UB around 8 and ran into my monk friend Baatar (MONK HERO!) who gave us a free ride to Mongol Steppe guesthouse and helped carry our bags up the 3 flights of stairs! He really is a monk hero. We dropped our crap and immediately went to American Burger & Fries (AB&F) for some american burgers and fries. And ice water. ICE! Back at the guesthouse we showered and exchanged significant looks at the weirdness of our fellow guesthouse guests. Not a fun weirdness like we possess but more like I hope he doesn't kill us in our sleep weirdness.
Day 8
He did not kill us in our sleep, which is good, because Day 8 is
First:Coffee. Need Coffee. Just me though. Camber needs no coffee. But I like her anyway. And PANCAKES! We both need pancakes. Then Peace Corps. Then Chingiss in the square, which my mom says is more of rectangle. Then an art gallery and a drunk man who said he was the artist, but we did not believe him. Then souvenir shopping. Camber bought postcards and magnets. I bought a hat to remember are time together and to keep my ears from falling off.
Of course, then it was time to feed again. Salads for both of us at Granville Irish Pub and then foot massages, which Camber treated me to, because she is extremely generous. Yea Camber!
We looked around the market for a bit and took some funny pictures by the Beatles and b a penguin and polar bears. A little more shopping and it was time for PIZZA, Camber's last meal in Mongolia and probably Caitlin's 837th to last meal in Mongolia. That's math! Then for desert we had apple huushuur, a traditional Mongolian food, except for instead of fat and mutton, there are apples and cinnamon, with ice cream on the side. Perfection! Thus Camber's visit ended, not with tears at the sorrow of parting, but with the laughter of ridiculous girls. Excuse me: Ladies.
love, C

Monday, November 8, 2010


Just a quick update friends!
88 Bikes stage 1 of Mongolia villages project is complete. I was really nervous that everything was not going to be perfect and it all would fall apart around my ankles and it would be all my fault, but of course it didn't. It wasn't quite perfect (bikes held up in customs) but it was pretty darn close.

100 kids in my town got bikes! Each child had to photographed at least three times, holding their 88 Bikes donor card with the pic of their bike donor, and the bike number had to visible in the photos. Also, donors like it when the kids who get the bikes look happy. This proved to make everything extra fun because Mongolians do not traditionally smile in photos. All my training with CB Photo from high school came rushing back. Someone had to explain to the kids who the funny Americans were on their cards and show them on the back of the card where America is on the world map and where Mongolia is. I learned very quickly (and very poorly) how to say, "This person gave you this bike. They live in America. You live in Mongolia. See?"

Some of these kids helped to paint 4 murals which were then hung up near the center of town on a large, 4-sided billboard.

ok, now ir is time to go to UB, so I will finish this later.
love, C

PS Jenny, the 88 bikes volunteer is AMAZING!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


by Robert Rauschenberg. No, just kidding. by me.
Instead of talking about how busy I am and what is stressing me out, I am going to talk about going to bed. It's my favorite part of the day. Well, going to bed, sleeping, and getting up are actually my favorite parts of the day. Maybe later I will tell you about getting up for the day, but probably not today, because this hard stool is already making me not want to sit here anymore and my coffee is almost gone. I will not tell you about sleeping because I am assuming you have done it before.
The "Going to Bed" process ideally starts around 9 pm. I love sleeping. Especially now that it is cold. What is the point of doing pretty much anything else? Step one is make tea. I just got chamomile tea in UB when I was there, but I also like peppermint. While the tea cools, I fill up my dipper with the rest of the hot water from the water boiler and poor it into the the reservoir above my sink. The reservoir is basically a small metal bucket with a faucet mounted above the sink. Hey look, running water! I wash my face with my Deep Clean Neutrogena Face Wash that my Aunt Sue sent me with the warm water that is a result of the freezing water left in the reservoir mixing with the boiling water just added.
Then I put the first layer of my pajamas on. They are the silky long underwear that are way to big that m dad gave me before I left. At first I did not know what to do with this 3XL long underwear set and was worried that my father either thought I was a giant or was unfamiliar how long underwear worked and thought perhaps it should go over the snowsuit. But then I realized they were prefect for sleeping. Ideally I would also have a small fire going at this point, probably for the last several hours. This is when I start letting it die (sorry fire, but if I go to bed when it is too warm I don't layer properly and then start to freeze around an hour later) and hang pajamas layer deux on the line next to fire between the two ger poles. Huge Mongolian faux pas, btdubs. Never supposed to have anything between those or hanging off of them. This makes for rapid reorganization if any Mongolian people who might be offended drop by. But by that time they are probably already offended as my door is locked when I am in it and that goes against the spirit of hospitality. Sometimes, not understanding it is locked, people will just pull and pull on my door thinking it is just stuck until I am afraid they are going to pull the whole thing down.
So anyway, with pajama layer one on and tea now a perfect drinking temperature, I read and drink tea while listening to my mellow "reading" playlist of iTunes, which consists of mostly Emmylou, Edith Piaf, Nanci Griffith, Jewel, Thelonius Monk, Sting's more mellower songs, and Belle & Sebastian. This is not the time for Rebel Hearts: Journey within the IRA's Soul, but something light and not at all scary. Currently I am reading the Little House collection that Aunt Casey sent for Book Bridge. Although sometimes they make me mad because Mary is so damned good, and poor Laura thinks she is so naughty. Also because they have things that I don't. Like an oven built in their wood burning stove so Ma can bake cakes. And an ice house. And Pa to chop the wood and build stuff and play the fiddle. *sigh*
By the time the tea is drunk, the ger has started to cool. So I convince myself not to have a 2nd cup of tea because I will regret it around 3 am when I can see my breath, brush my teeth, pee in bucket (don't judge me, it's cold!), check email and go offline on Skype and Facebook, and don pajamas layer deux,which are slightly warm from the fire. Layer deux is flannel pants and my Prairie Home Companion long sleeve tee. (As an aside, cool that I am reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and wearing a PHC tee, right? I miss SD.) I also put on giant man's socks my dad sent me (really, he must think I am a giant) and my grey hoodie, we'll call this pajama layer deux.5. I then carefully move sleeping kitty Babette and get into bed.
My bed is hilarious, I laugh at it every day. Originally it is basically a wooden frame with a piece of fabric over the wood. I can literally knock on it. It reminds me of that super thin carpet on the really hard floors at like a hospital, or a daycare. It resembles a bed only in appearance. So on the back half of the bed is what I actually sleep on. My "mattress" consists of a Mongolian bed pad which is like 1/5 of an American futon, 2 comforters, 3 emergency Peace Corps blankets, 1 wool blanket, camp pad my dad sent me (not giant but normal sized and awesome), and a ripped open sleep sack for a sheet. This creates a sleeping surface that is about 2 1/2 feet wide 6 inches off the "bed". I might be more comfortable with some of the blankets, especially the wool on, on top of me but they are not mine and I have no idea what has happened to them in their life before they met me and they give me the skeeby jeebies.
Ok so I move Babette, and wiggle into my sleeping bag. It is rated for -40F, but that must be just keep you alive at -40 and definitely not comfortable at -40. I move one of my extra pillows (that I made a pillow case for because of the skeeby jeebies) under my head turn on the rechargeable emergency torch the Peace Corps gave me which hangs from the hammock frame behind my bed. I settle in and read until the rechargeable light loses power and goes off, or I get tired, usually around 10:30. The pink microplush blanket gets put over my top half as I zip the sleeping bag up all the way, up over the pink blanket and over my head, and Velcro the top of the zipper together, to prevent accidental skin exposure. Then I have to slink one arm out and pull the top thin blanket up the rest of the way, which is tucked around my "mattress" tightly to hold me on the mattress and prevent the draft that comes through the zipper of the sleeping bag. The other arm replaces the cold one outside the covers to retrieve Burt's bees chapstick from hanging on the light switch directly above my head by it's duct tape holder for one last application. The hoods of both the grey hoodie and the sleeping bag are drawn up. If I am not tired enough or if I am too cold to sleep I pull my book and flashlight in with me and read one last chapter. Babette makes her way into the sleeping bag with me and settles in under my chin. I fall asleep while fighting my conflicting impulses to burrow down to the warmth and keep my nose exposed to breathe fresh air.

The whole going to sleep operation takes about 2 hours. 2 hours going to bed, 9 hours sleeping, 2 hours getting up and getting ready leaves only 11 hours to do other things. -3 hours for cooking/eating. -2 hours walking to and from my ger and any other place. -3 hours on the Internet. My useful day is basically 3 hours long.
Books I've recently read:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot ****
Although a little too scientific at times for my taste, it was broken up by the adventures of the author in search for the truth alternatively aided and hindered by the Lacks family. I generally liked it and felt smarter just carrying it around. Loaned to me by Amy, our wonderful Peace Corps Medical Officer.
Popism: The Warhol Sixties by Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett **
A strange string of anecdotes that makes everyone look shallow and crazy, especially Warhol, who seems to think he is superior because he is the only one not strung out. Funny a moments but left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Bridget Jones 1 and 2 **
Funny at times, but once i looked up what a stone was and realized that most of the book was her complaining about her weight without justification, I was just annoyed.
Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins *****
I love Tom Robbins. This one and Another Roadside Attraction alternate being my favorite depending on which one i most recently read. Did anyone else hear him on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. Perfect.

love, C

PS The capris you left me mom are so flippin' comfortable I refuse to stop wearing them because it is winter. The boots you sent cover the part of the leg the pants don't anway.

PPS Sorry I made fun if the giant clothes you gave me dad. I really do appreciate them and I think you are swell!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Sitemate Joyce and I hanging out at VSO volunteer Ihab's birthday party.
Friday I went with sitemate Jo to the monastery across the street from my hashaa (yard where my ger is set up) to honor her daughter, Victoria, who died in a car crash four years ago. She gave money and matches to the monks, while our friend and monk Bataar explained. The monks were chanting and a few were playing some instruments. It was exactly music; Jo described it more of a "joyful noise unto the Lord." It was really nice, peaceful and beautiful, and I am glad Jo let me be with her. We spent the rest of the day just chatting and eating and baking a cake for the evening.

Saturday, an American Buddhist monk was visiting Arvaikheer, so we all went to his lecture at the theatre. Sitemates Jo, Babila, and Allison and myself got to speak with a few minutes prior to the talk. All during his guided meditation people's cell phones were going off. Turning off cell phones or even not talking while something is happening on stage, whether it be a monk's lecture, musical performance, or competition, is just not one of the social norms here.

Yesterday I had a laundry marathon. Jo has a Korean washing machine and has been nice enough to offer its use to me. It's so nice to not have to wring out bigger items, so I took her up on the offer Sunda afternoon. Sunday morning I did the light laundry by hand and then around noon took a sweatshirt, my pajamas, 2 duffel bags that have cat spray (not from my cat, she's a girl!) on them, as well as the two micro fleece blankets my dad sent me forever ago and have never been washed (ew)! You should have seen the water that was coming out of the machine. Pretty frickin gross. Jo has an apartment with running water of course, but laundry is still a bit of an effort. First you have to fill up the machine with water by filling a dipper of water and pouring the dipper into the machine about 40 times. Then the clothes and the soap. It takes about 40 minutes to do a full cycle, alternating between slight agitation and soaking. Then you have drain the machine into a tumpen (shallow large basin) my lifting the drain hose back and down repeatedly and stopping to dump the soiled water down the drain befrore it gets too heavy to lift. .Then you fill up the tumpen with clean water and rince the clothes one of the time before putting them, again one at a time, into the spinner. After hanging all the clothes, you must again drain the machine. Better than hand washing perhaps, but it uses far more water and of course I have to haul the clothes back and forth to Jo's place, a good 10 minute walk. I was so appalled by the water coming out of the machine, I can't believe I have been sleeping with those blanklets. They smell amazing now!

Tonight is another meeting if the Harry Potter Book Club! I can't wait! I also got 2 (TWO!) packages today from my wonderful Aunt Casey (Maureen to her grown-up friends). I so appreciate the People Magazine, the books, the food, and especially the SHAM-WOW!s HAHAHA!

It's been really warm the past few days, which is exciting, but it makes me slightly apprehensive. Like the calm before the storm. Winter is coming! However, my favorite store just got peach yogurt, so I am hoping they keep getting it throughout the winter, so I can eat frozen yogurt. Plus I will make ice. And make huge fires and drink iced coffee.

love, C

PS. There is a recipe for a Healthy Cobb Salad. I spent a good couple of minute laughing after I read it and realized the only ingredients I have access to are black pepper and water. Pepper water sounds pretty good! hahaha!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Harry Potter Book Club!

Last night we had our second meeting of the Advanced English Book Club. Around 15 people participated, which was an increase from last week's 8 or so. Last night we finished chapter 1, The Boy Who Lived. Everyone took turns reading aloud and everyone seemed to get what was happening. Even people who originally claimed to be too shy eventually were peer pressured into reading. This is one of the things that I am really excited about here in the beginning of my second year. We hold the club on Monday evenings in Book Bridge Library at my friend Uugaana's NGO, the Youth Development Center. The library has 4 copies of the first book. 2 are the American editions and 2 are the british, which doesn't make much a difference beyond a few word changes. During the club, 3 or 4 people gather around every book. So if you know anyone who had to buy a copy of the HP books for each of their children so they wouldn't have to fight over a single copy, but now really only need 1 around the house, we could definately use some more. It is so amazing to have a group of people come to something that you organized and want to be there and participate.

Other things I am excited for include:

88 Bikes Project! 100 Bikes have been ordered for kids in Arvaikheer and will arrive around Oct. 15s to be given out end of October or early November, when a rep from 88 bikes can come. A second project in Hojirt soum is already being planned.

Monglish Night:
Tuesdays at Loving Hut Vegan Restaurant. People can come and practice English and we (PCV and VSO vlounteers) practice our Mongolian (sort of!) Good food, good relationships, fun times.

Site Mates:
Awesome people!

love, C

Sunday, September 19, 2010


And so school begins! This is a little past my half-way point, but it is really the beginning of my second year as school is starting again. There has already been some successes and frustrations.

The bike guys, Dan and Jared of 88 Bikes, came at the end of August. They LOVED Mongolia and could see this becoming their "flagship" project. They will either come back themselves or send a volunteer in October to give 50 -100 kids in my town of Arvaikheer bikes. They are also working with a partner NGO to establish a bike shop and are planning on doing a second project in the nearby soum of Hojirt, which is where my frined Brandon lived for the past 2 years. Super excited about all this as you may imagine. Just a reminder, you can visit their website to learn more or donate. It is only 88 dollars to donate a bike and you recieve a picture of the recipient and other cool info.

My school got a flat screen tv from somewhere. They hung it outside of my office. There are no outlets in the hallway, so the drilled a pretty large hole in the wall to run the cord through into my office. It is loud. :(

Tonight will be the first meeting of my Advanced English Book Club. I am really excited about this. I feel that there are plenty of resources for people in Arv who want to learn English, but there are few resources for those people who already speak English, but want to get even better. There are some English Teachers, World Vision Employees, and others that I think will get a lot out of this club. We are going to read Harry Potter. A Harry Potter Book Club in Mongolia! I love it!

My new sitemates are amazing! I am having so much fum with them! We have three new PCVs in Arv and one new soumer who lives in a small town Guchin-Os a few hours outside of Arv. Jo is from Ohio and works at 1st school in town. She has two grown sons back home and comes from a social work background. She is hilarious, swears like a sailor, and has a lot to offer "based on her vast years of experience" Joyce is right out of college and is working as an English Teacher at Merged School, which is near my school. She is full of hysterical self (and others) depricating humor and we get along great. She is from Florida and so, I am sure, is looking very much forward to winter. Babila is a business volunteer from Baltimore. He is also uproariously funny and quite a good dancer! I think he is already working too hard; he is going to make me look bad! They join Allison and I in Arv. Erin is our new soumer. I haven't got to spend much time with her yet, but so far I find her sweet as pie. I think she might be coming into town today for the first time since heading to site!

Some other things I have going on are a "Monglish" night a vegan restaurant Loving Hut with sitemattes and anyone interested in practicing English/staring at foreigners. 2 Life Skills Clubs and one Life Skills class. A possible dance club and tutoring the students who will compete in the english olympics As well as an English Teachers group, time in the disabled stidents room, and actually some french tutoring! I will keep you updated as these things progress.

I hope you all are well. I want to give a shout out to Jennie Clare, my forever friend, who just married a wonderful man. (Justin? I LOVE Justin!) I can't wait for more pics!

love, C

Monday, August 23, 2010

The much anticipated visit

In which Four Redmond Women head off on a whirl wind Mongolia Palooza encountering a secret monastery, interesting smells (which some may describe as horrible, but as you see I have characterized it as interesting), a surprise forest, a waterfall, and the tolerance threshold of time in a meeker.

Seeing someone else see Mongolia is quite an enjoyable experience. It is comforting in many ways:
1. It demonstrates that you are not alone. Everything that you find difficult and/or strange will be met with similar reactions by relations. And they are grown-ups.
2. You realize how far you have come. You are easy breezy and have adapted actually quite nice thank you very much. What smell? What bumpy road? What unbearable noise? What intolerable cold? Hahaha! You laugh in the face of discomfort!
3. More people who understand more about your life is nice.

I am going to ask the three lovely ladies to write guest posts about their time here. I think they will do a better job than I. Look for those posts coming soon! One thing I wanted to mention was the waterfall. It was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen and I grew up next door to Mt. Rushmore.

love, C

Monday, August 2, 2010

Forgive me!

oh dear, I have been a terrible blogger. I am a sad Tigger, a sorry Tigger, a I'll-never-neglect-my-blog-so-bad-again Tigger. In my defense, I have been ever so busy and important. 2 children's camps totaling more than 4 weeks in addtion to no internet in the ger, not to mention Naadam and extreme laziness. Here is my attempt to catch you up:

Camp in Bayan-Olgi: June 11-July 3
Super fun! Tons of work. 7 hours of English Teaching a day, but the kids were great. It felt kinda weird to be telling kids when to go to bed and what to do, almost like being a grown-up. I am really glad I went and really happy I got a chance to see western Mongolia without taking a 60 hour bus ride, which may have killed me. Kazakh Mongolia is a lot like the rest of Mongolia but with some differences. Mostly people speak Kazakh, but a lot of people know Mongolian, as well as Russian and/or Turkish, with a smattering of English. The food tends to have a little more spice than traditional Mongolian food. Two thumbs way up for spice!! The majority of people are also Muslim, though not as strict as I would have thought. It was really interesting being in a part of Mongolia that was really different from both my life in America, and my life I have gotten used to in Mongolia.

After camp in Bayan-Olgi I flew back to Ulaanbaatar, stopping for gas in Moron in Northern Mongolia on the way. (Me: "Where are we? This isn't UB!" Stewardess: "No, we must stop in Moron for more petrol" Me: "Well, of course we do.") In UB I was able to celebrate Independence Day in true style. No, not by blowing up aliens with Will Smith, but by eating a sub sandwich and drinking wine coolers and harassing tourists.

Camp in Ovorkhungai, near Hojirt: July 12-19
Back in Arvaikheer a few days later, it was time to prepare for our camp a couple hours away near Hojirt. We took 75 kids to camp, 35 of which had a full or partial scholarship from funds we had applied for and received. Half way to camp on of the buses broke down so all the kids got onto one bus, then off again once the driver decided the othere could be fixed, then on again when that hope was proven false. The bus would have fit 25 people comfortably. We rode with around 80.
Tunga, my counterpart, and I led HIV prevention sessions everyday at this camp, with the help of one of the older more experienced campers. These sessions were about an hour long with a game to wrap up the sessions. The weather was chilly and rainy and the kids really just wanted to relax with their friends. I only brought 2 books with me. Huge mistake. I ended re-reading the enitre HIV prevention book, and reading one of the books twice. It did not warrant a second veiwing. So I wrote a little, played yahtzee, UNO, and poker with anyone who would, sometimes alone, and annoyed teenagers and Tunga's kids. Too much free time, no computer, angsty kids coupled with pretty terrible food made this not my favorite week. However, there were some highlights. Walking a couple miles to find a wider deeper part of the stream to bathe outside, with the sun shining, the birds chirping, the flowers nodding. Red Rover, Wheelbarrel Racing, and an awesome crazy active group version of rock, paper, scissors called Princess, Monster, Man. Good times were had, but when I was told we couldn't have a session on sunday, our last day, and there was a car going back on saturday, I jumped at the chance to go back a day early. Which turned into a whole new adventure...
I ended up riding home with one of the teachers from my school that I don't know really well in a super nice SUV in a caravan of 5 vehicles. It was one of his classes 20 year reunion. I thought it was really cute that they invited two of their teachers to their reunion and they all seemed to be having a really good time. However, after our second stop to play games and drink vodka, I stopped thinking anything was cute. After it started hailing, we stopped for the 4th time during which the driver of the car I was in vomited and jumped back in the driver's seat. Needless to say, I was super happy to get back to my little ger. I went to bed with thoughts of chilling in my hammock the next day and decompressing with The Gilmore Girls and crotcheting my blanket. Ahhh, the best laid plans.

All PCVs are expected to text Naraa, our Safety and Security Officer, whenever we change locations. So when I arrived home, I texted Naraa, who is great btw, and mentioned that my ger was still pretty wet. Since I had asked her a few weeks before what I could do to stay dryer, she knew it was an ongoing problem. So in the morning, she told my regional manager Baagi, who called me, at 9 am, and said he would tell my haashaa family. As things happen slowly in Mongolia, I figured I would just wait until Monday and talk to my counterpart and firgure out how to get more plastic. I am not really sure why, but about 15 minutes later my haashaa sister came over and told me all of my things needed to be moved outside. And then the roof started to come in. I was still in my pajamas. It was back up by evening with minimal permanate psychological damage done.

UB days July 25th-Aug 2nd
I went to UB to meet with the new CYD volunteers and impart my massive amount of wisdom to them. I was great meeting them and telling them funny stories. I also had my mid service medical exam and dental check-up, whcih bith came back with a clean bill of health, minus the fact I apparently clench my teeth when I sleep which is making my gums recede. The dentist asked me if I was stressed. I replied with the fact I live in a tent. She laughed.

My next post will highlight the visit from my mother and aunts and the adventures we found. Stay tuned!
love, C

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Summer Plans

My summer is filling up! I recently recieved an email informing me that the camp I volunteered to work at in June would love to have and will, in fact, fly me out! It is in Bayab-Olgi, which is far west Mongolia. Seriously pul up Google Maps and check this place out. It's not space, but it's a pretty fine frontier. They speak Kazahk and the population is mostly Muslim. I am really excited to see such a different part of Mongolia. And really excited they are flying. 2 hour plane ride vs. 55 hour bus ride. Hugely Awesome. Ok so here is my summer:
I think I will go to Bayankhongor the 30th of May and then go to UB from there on the 3rd of June. Because I want to,
3-5 UB (meetings, a concert, cheering friend Josh at the Marathon, greeting the new volunteers at the airport, eating food, taking showers...)
6-10 or 11 Erdenet (visiting friend Katie, eating food, taking showers, meeting her cat, seeing Erdenet: The Boston of Mongolia)
10-11-12? UB (Get on the plane. When? How much luggage can I bring? Are there showers at this camp?...)
12-30 Bayan-Olgi (CAMP!, hopefully as close to the independant film as possible.)
30-1-2? UB (fly in, get back to Arvaikhher, spend as little money as possible)
I just found out that there are only flights from Bayan-Olgi to UB on Tuesdays and Saturdays. So Camp ends the 30th, but I wll stay in a hotel in Bayan-Olgi until the 4th! WOOT?!!!!
6?-11 Arvaikheer (Laundry, prepare for Overkhangai Life Skills Camp, Naadam!)
12-24 Hojirt Soum (CAMP! Part Deux!)
25-30 Arvaikheer (Laundry, rest, hike?)
31 UB
1 UB (Mother and Aunts Arrive! 4 Redmond Women of on a Whirlwind Mongolian Adventure! Look out!)
2 UB (See UB briefly, rest)
Day 1 8/3. Bagagazariin chuluu
Day2. 8/4 bayanzag and Temeen shavar
Day3. 8/5 Khongor sand dune
Day4. 8/6 Full day Camel trip around Khongor sand dune.
Day5 8/7 Ongi Temple
Day6 8/8 Orkhon water fall
Day7 8/9 Arvaikheer

9-13 Arvaikheer Hang out and see where Caitlin lives, works, and plays. Hike?
14-15 UB last sights, say goodbye
16-26 Arvaikheer (cry, laundry, Greet the new Arvaikheer when the come after they Swear-In on the 20th.)
27-29 UB/Outside of UB Mid-Service Training!

And soon after that my bike project event happens. Busy busy summer full of fun travel! I am so excited. And I hoping there won't even be too big of a letdown at the end of the summer because of the 88Bikes project and the new volunteers. I am going to make them be my friends by winning them over with my delightful personality, infectious sense of humor, and persistance! And if neccasary tying them up in my ger and making them play Uno with me. Just kidding! ...mostly...

I hope you all will have as good of summer as I am going to have. Although propably with more swimming and bbqs and grass. Blarg.

love, C

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dip n' dots from Outer Space

Last night, walking home, we were hit my some sort of supernatural thunder ice storm from outer space. It was pretty crazy. It was like Zeus thought Percy Jackson stole his lightning bolt and was hurtling ice kernels down at us mere mortals in anger. Or something. When I got home, I had a handful of ice in the pouch of my hoodie. Awesome as I am, I had made a huge fire before leaving for dinner so my ger was warm and cozy upon our return. Epic win.

This weekend was a nice break. There were a ton of volunteers in town and we ate a lot of good food. This week all the M19s need to go into UB for their COS (close of service) conference. So, in addition to our regular 5 PCVs in town, we had our soumers Kristen and Marissa from Kharkhorin and Brandon from Hojirt. And just because Arvaikheer is the bee's knees Lindsey and Josh came too. Ihab and Alberto, new VSO volunteers stationed in town were awesome enough to hang out with us a little too. Needless to say very little Mongolian was spoke all weekend.

Friday night Karaoke fun was had along with some group games. Saturday we ate at French Toast and Loving Hut and exchanged so many tv and movie files we all should be good on entertainment for many months. That night was the going away party for one of M19 sitemates for her counterparts and other people. She is officially gone from Arvaikheer, but is staying in UB another year as one of our PCVLs (volunteer leaders). It will be nice to have her still be around, but a little sad that she is all moved out. The bright part of the evening was teaching my friend Khandaa the "awkward turtle" sign. Hahaha!

Sunday all the M19s left for UB. Marissa, Josh, and I watched The Shining and I made Spicy Thai Peanut Chicken Pasta. (I will eat the leftovers for dinner tonight and I am already thinking about it. Yum Yum) Just as Marissa's car came to take her home, (that sounds way fancier than it actually is) Ihab came over. Josh, Ihab, and I played Uno while we waited for our Loving Hut pizza to be made. Walking home from dinner was the ice kernel storm from outer space. Crazy weekend!

It is amazng how hanging with friends can make my life seem so normal. I really forgot that I live in a tent without plumbing in a country where I barely speak the language. Not that remembering is a bad thing, but it was nice to have other things to focus on. Movies and food and friends and fun.

In work news, I have finished my first draft for the 88 Bikes proposal. The project is really coming along, but there is so much left to do. One step at a time. My grant was approved for the summer camp project. We will have enough funds for 37 scholarships for disadvantaged youth as well as money for supplies to conduct HIV/STI/AIDS prevention trainings will the campers. This will take place in the middle of July and I am super excited.

It is cool today, but I am still wearing one of my new skirts. I found a second hand shop and bought a couple to extend my wardrobe a little. Of my pants, only one pair jeans really fit anymore and I can't wear those to work. I also bought some teal knockoff converse shoes. I think the combo looks pretty awesome!

Shannon, I hope this makes you happy. I will try to do better with keeping my blog updated.

I miss you all. Congrats to all my friends who are graduating! I love you all!

love, C

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lao Tzu

"Go to the people, Live with the people. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build on what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, The people all say, "We have done it ourselves." Lao Tzu


I had a couch surfer come stay with me last night. She is from France. (Really from france, not like those Coneheads.) I went to meet the bus when it got here yesterday, but then ended up having to rush back to school with my new friend in tow, to an English Tournament. An hour later, there was a short awards ceremony for previous compitions and then the competition I was supposed to judge at got going. It was decided that I should be more of the MC for the compitition and others would judge. However, one of the judges ended up not being able to come, so my new friend was told to judge. Hahahaha. Welcome to Arvaikheer, please be a judge for a competion for people who speak a language you don't know that are learning a language that is not your native tongue, nor your second language, but actually your Third language. She was a trouper!

She did not like the night in the ger though, so she is off again today. I am sending her to Bayankhongor to stayy with some appartment dwelling PCVs there. Oh well, ger life is not for everyone.

I am sure i have mentioned before about the never ending "hi! how are you?"s all day. This is shouted at me everywhere I go. Well, a few days ago I got a surprise. After the customery "Hi how are you?" and my reply "I am fine thanks. How are you?" The young girl replied, to my astonishment, "I am fine also. What do you think of air pollution?" whith a barely a breath between sentences. Wow! We ended up having a good conversation about pollution in Mongolia. What a good student she must be!

I let Bill out late Saturday because he was being so loud and I could not sleep throough s meowing. When I woke up on Sunday it was snowing and had been for a few hours it looked like and he was no where to be found. I was ever so worried. However, I had some guests coming over for brunch. I spent the morning getting reading and calling for kitty out the door every couple of minutes, but to no avail. When I walked out to the street to meet my guests, I still had not found my cat. As soon as we got to my ger and I opened the door, he seemed to appear out of nowhere and streaked through the door and proptly went and layed down next to the fire. Stinker. I made french toast which was a delicious and funny because one of my guests was French and he had never had it before.

Today is beautiful outside, I could barely see my breath this morning. No light dusting of snow either. I know it is not warm for good, but I am certainly enjoying it today. I just need to remind myself not to get complacent. Last year it snowed in June.

Well, not much else going on here. I might be getting my hammock frame this week and next week I am buying a desk from a fellow PCV who is moving to UB. I also found a small handheld vacuum (I hope it's a vacuum, the lady made a sucking noice when I asked her what is was!) so hopefully soon my ger will have a few more furnishings and less dirt.

I miss you people muchly much! Take care and don't forget to miss me!

love, C

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I am wearing all purple today. Purple blouse, purple skirt, purple headband (it's really cute!), and purple shoes (with gree and pink and yellow from the early 90s, they make me feel like Kelly Kapowstki!) Nothing like Purple Day to lift my spirits.

I thought I bought dried cilantro, but alas, it is parsley. What can I do with parsley?

I also bought dried milk. It instructs me to "Dissolve in water and drink it or use for gruel, soup and omelet cooking. Also use it as an ingredient for bread, pancakes, pastries and ice-cream. I want some gruel!

I think i managed to communicate to one of my delguur (store) ladies about some powdered cheese that is available in UB. It is the same brand as the soup mix the store has and I really want it. On my walk home after this funny conversation, I thought about how different and more awesome my life will be if this cheese comes. I will put it on popcorn among other things.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I went to Kharkhorin last weekend. It was really nice and great to get out of town for a few days. I stayed with my friend and fellow PCV Kristen, or K Star. Her ger is cute and the door to her ping is the smallest door I have ever seen. You practically have to crawl in. I brought Billio the cat to eat her mice. He only got one, and two spiders. I still think that maybe that's all there was. Also, the driver came to my ger to get me early (!!!!) and I wan not ready and he was honking and...I forgot my computer power cord. Kristen has been living without a computer for some time and was looking forward to a weekend of movies. Epic Fail on my part. Maybe it was destiny. We did have a lot of good conversations and we played I Spy, so it wasn't a totally unentertaining weekend. We also saw PCV friend Marissa and went out to dinner one night. It snowed a ton so I wasn't able to get a ride back to Arvaikheer until Tuesday. The meeker (van-type vehicle) housed 14 adults, 1 baby, 1 loud cat, and around 10 Morin Khurr. A Morin Khurr is a Mongolia traditonal horse head string instrament slightly smaller than a cello. The meeker got stuck 4 times. The ride was cold and uncomfortable, but we made it! I wished I could have seen more of Kharkhorin, but I think I will take my 3 broads there this summer. It is aparently quite beautiful in the summer. Not that is wasn't last weekend, just beautiful and cold and snowy.

Things are tough back in Arvaikheer. My haasha sister died while I was in Kharkhorin. She lived in the house in my haasha (yard) with her husband and baby and the rest of the family. It is really difficult and very sad. This is all happening during the busiest time of the year. I have project proposals to work on and the 2nd part of a school social workers seminar that Esu (PCV sitemate) is putting on is this week as well.

Thank you for checking up on me. It is really important to me to have support back home. I miss you all! love, C

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oh I want this to happen!!!!

A few weeks ago I heard a man named Dan Austin on my Rick Steves Podcast. He was talking about a book he wrote about pilgrimages in travel and how to make any trip more meaningful by making it a pilgrimage, which doesn't need to be about religion. He also talked a little bit about his organization called 88 bikes. 88bikes is a micro-philanthropy project that gives bikes to kids in developing countries who are challenged to be their own heroes. Well, I thought to myself, I am in a developing country!

So I got Mr. Austin's email off the website and told him a little about my situation. He emailed me back the NEXT DAY! So a few emails later and they would like to roll on the project. They are interested in doing a large endowment, possible 500+ bikes! There are still many logistics to work out and a lot of work ahead, but I think we can make this happen!

I am really REALLY excited about this. Alot of the work I do here is great, but pretty vague in the final impact aspect. I feel this is something measurable and sustainable and really needed that I could help achieve for the kids here.

The organization is really great. They don't keep an office or a staff, so all the money goes to projects. It is only $88 to sponsor a bike. The kid that receives your bike will get a postcard that shows the Sponsor, a world map, and the Sponsor’s hometown. Photos and film of the project are made available to the Sponsors, and each Sponsor receives a thank-you letter with a photo of the child who received their bike.

I will keep this updated as the project progresses. They want to get this going this summer! Also, they want to set up the bike shop in a ger!!!

love, C

PS. His email is coulditbepossible. I love it!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Nuhkt again

Well I made it back from UB! I was going to wait until tomorrow to come back, but decided to leave early so I could meet with some VSO people in Arvaikheer tonight. It was canceled. Oh well, it is cheaper to be in Arvaikheer than UB anyhoo.

My trip to the city was super fun. The first night I met up with a few PCVs and we ran into I think the entire population of ex-pats in UB who were on a St. Pat's Day Pub Crawl. A few of us joined in and much fun was had. The night wrapped up on a good note with me winning 2nd place, and a pair of NEW socks, in the Irish Jig Contest! It is my heretige after all.

Khongor, the guest house I usually stay it, was under construction and perhaps not the best choice of places to stay, but some of us did anyway. It is going to be amazing when it is done, but walking from the shower to the room, avoiding the wet cement and the workers was a little awkward. Hahaha

Sunday, I finally got to Michelle's, the French Bakery, but alas, the owner was not there so I did not get to practice my French. I did get to practice my Mocha drinking and Panini eating, but I have always been a star at those skills anyway. I probably would've embarassed myself with the French owner and thrown in some Mongolian. Mon Deau!

Later I may have gone to see Avatar again with a group of people. I mostly went for the popcorn. Which was awesome. That night a bunch of us PCVs tried to go to a Thai restaurant, but it was closed, so we ended up at an Indian place. I had gone there in December for a PCVs birthday, so I tried something new. We also got to sit under a tent on cushians araund a table, so that was super cool.

Monday morning we headed to Nukht for the seminar. I woke up really nauseaus, which wasn't helped by the bus ride there. Two hours and about a gollon of water later I felt much better. The week was a bit of a blur. We had example life skills sessions and practice seesions for our Mongolian CPs. We also got started on our grant proposals for doing these lessons at camp and continuing it on afterwards. Our camp in Overkhungai Aimag costs about 50,000 Tugruks per camper. That is about $35 and pays for a week of food, lodging, everything. We are applying for a grant mostly for scholarships for disadvantaged students who normally can't go. The rest of the grant funds will go towards supplies such as flip chart paper, markers, pens, notebooks, and maybe some stools for the youth development room at my school. It is really hard to do life skills when everyone has to stand the whole time. I am really excited about this project and really want to keep it going after camp and after the funding. I want to train peer trainers so that my CPs Tunga and Tuul and the peer trainers can carry on after I go back to the land of refridgerators and MTV. (I want my, I want my...)

Of course, the week wasn't all work. We played games in the evenings and watched several episodes of GLEE. I took a few baths (ahhh!) and a bunch of us went sledding one evening. WE didn't have sleds, so we used plastic bags and the folders we were using to keep all our handouts in. It was great fun. Some of the Mongolians were really fearless, trying to ski down on folders and pushing each other to go faster.

Friday afternoon we headed back into UB. On the bus everyone had fun making fun of me for not knowing any famous sport people who are not retired and decided what to eat for dinner. After getting various errands done at Peace Corps (Paul, I need Dramamine!) we dropped our stuff of at UB Guesthouse. This was my first time staying somewhere in UB not at Khongor. UB GH is nice, although I still love my Khongor. The showers are bigger at UB and the dorm beds are softer, but it is 2000 T more a night and then make you make your own bed. I never got the duvet cover on my comforter, it was too hard. Also they have a lot of rules. No TV after 11, no one other than paying guests allowed in the dorm, the door locks at midnight so don't be out after then... They are too bossy. I will be happy when I come to UB again, (end of May?) and can stay at Khongor. Plus they know and like me and are running the tour for when my mom and aunts come.

Ashlee and I went shopping before dinner. At Mercury I bought lemon juice, tabassco sauce, curry powder, and BACON. At Good Price I bought Teddy Grahams, which I am eating as I type this. Ashlee said he had to buy Listerine and for a minute I couldn't think what that was. It is mouthwash, not toilet bowl cleaner. That would be dumb, they don't have a toilet. Although, in my defense, they are the same color.

Ashlee and I went to Millie's for dinner. I had never been there and it is her favorite place. I wanted to go t American Burger and fries, but eventually gave in. We ended up sitting there for a long time because we thought other people were going to meet us. They were waiting for us at the guest house. Long story short, I drank expensive coffee and we read boring magazines outloud to each other, ate Teddy Grahams, and finally ordered without them. It was actually fun and they other people ended up elsewhere, so all was well.

Saturday I was able to get a seat on the 8 am bus back to Arv. My iPod had been running all night and was out of power. Sad story. However, after the seminar and being UB, I hadn't really slept well in about a week, so I was pretty much passed out the whole time. At one point I did wake up to the Lambada music video playing on the bus tv. I grew up with that song as the house cleaning song and had a few seconds of "where the heck am I and what year is it" feelings. Very Twilight Zone.

Today was laundry and climbing a mountain and finally sitting down to write this blog. Also, I have been trying to distill water all day. I hope it isn't broken. Whatever will I drink? Yesterday, my toaster oven wouldn't work, but I fixed it. Maybe I can fix the distiller as well. In the mean time I am drinking orange fanta. The 45 degree weather and the triple peanut I found were the best things that happened to me today. How about you?

Also, some pics.

love, C

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

more photos + update

Sorry it has been so long since I posted. I keep getting distracted. I don't know why. It may be from the immense amount of stuff the internet has to look at. For example, there are about a zillion of funny cat pictures that demand my attention. Plus I do have an actual funny cat here to entertain me. Recently he has discovered the outside. Which he loves and wants to go visit anytime he is inside. Only to whine at the door, be let inside, use the litter tumpen, and meow to go back out! Really!?!?! The world is your litter box Bill, please stopping coming inside the tent to poo!

Monday, as you may or may not know, was International Women's Day. In Mongolia, the men are supposed to do all the women's work and there is no school. In Arvaikheer, 3 out of the 5 PCVs are women, so we made the boys play Settlers with us. (It really wasn't a hard, they like it too!)

Sunday I did laundry again and relaxed. Saturday I did absolutely nothing. I barely got out of bed. It was fabulous. I napped. I read. I watched a movie. I ate peanut butter and jelly. It is nice to be really lazy once in a while. As a result of this laziness however, plus the activities taking up the rest of the weekend, meant I did not get a hike in. Oops, sorry mom. I made up for it my hiking this afternoon. It was really warm today (I could barely see my breath!) and it helped me get out some of the minor frustration I was feeling at having my life skills class cancelled again! blarg.

Friday night was a great treat for us Arvaikheer PCVs. The USAID Mongolia director came to Arvaikheer, along with 2 other USAID officials, on their tour of the countryside effected my the Zud (terrible winter.) The director met with us to talk abut our lives here and treated us to dinner. He also brought us a large bag of granola and some pistaccios. We may erect a statue in his honor. It was a highly enjoyable evening. It was great to meet someone whose career is continuing to make a difference in the lives of people here. Hmmm...maybe foreign service is something I should look into.

I have been spending a lot of time at Book Bridge Library lately helping to organize books. AS of now almost all the books are alphabetized with stickers indicating what shelf the belong on and the authors last name, hopefully making the system sustainable. Now if only we could come up with a way of paying the rent in the long term.

I amm very excited to have another chance to go to UB in a couple of weeks. My counterpart Tungaa, a lady who works at the Aimag Children's Center here in Arvaikheer, and I will go in for a special training the week of the 22nd. It will be focussed on the 11th book of our Life Skills Series which deals with sexuality, specifically with the prevention of STIs especially HIV. We will learn how to teach these sensitive topics and have an opportunity to work on a grant to implement the training at our Aimag summer camp in July. We will again be staying at Nukht, where we had IST in December. I think it will be a great opportunity for further capacity building, community partnerships and much needed information on this important topic.

My hashaa sister is building me a fire right now. She is so sweet for me. Although she does use alot of cardboard to get it going. It's ok. I just keep telling myself that I will not run out before summer, cardboard has a way of turning up. Like today, when I got a surprise package from my godfather Mr. Greg Nielson. He was in Peace Corps when I was a baby. Thank you so much Greggy (cross-your-leggy) for the beef jerkey, peanut butter, candy, and garlic powder. All good things to eat, although not all together probably! Kiss Maggie and Pepper for me! You are swell! And thanks for the lovely note too! It is hanging on my ceiling.

Here is the link to my January photos:

I hope you all are well! I miss you! love, C

PS I watched My Sister's Keeper yesterday. Blek! Take a pass.
I am going to watch The West Wing tonight to make up for it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

February Pictures!

love, C

PS really wicked sandstorm right now, I hope I don't blow away!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Gabb!

For those of you who do not know Miss Gabrielle Baldwin, she is amazing and your lives are sad without her! Her friendship is the best thing to come out of college. (yeah, knowledge is great and all, but this girl is fab!) I love Gabb to much and am so pleased we are once again the same age. Now Jennie and I and Gabb are all 24 and all is right with the world again!

Internet in my ger is amazing! Although, I need to find a happy medium between using it an doing other things, like dishes and feeding my cat. This was the first weekend with it and I am hoping I can utilize more self control during the coming week. I got to speak to my dad and see him through his webcam briefly, which was great. I am looking forward to when my mom can get hers set up. Amazing friend Dylan has agreed to help her! What a nice guy. I am also uploading pictures to facebook and will put the link to them here, so even if aren't a facebook junkie you can see my goi (beautiful) pictures!

Thursday and Friday, sitemate Esayes, together with WorldVision, put on a great seminar for school social workers. My counterpart Tungaa and I attended and I think everyone got some good ideas and pointers on how to improve their work. Props to Esayes for organizing, Amber and Molly PCVs from UB for presenting, and another sitemate of mine who presented and I know did a good job, even though I missed that presentation. I missed it to accompany Molly and Amber to a few of Arvaikheers prime attractions. We visited BookBridge Library and ran into PCV Terrence who was stopping in Arv on his way to Hojirt to visit PCV Brandon. Brandon and Terrence are our "soumers." The live in soums, or small towns, ouside of Arv and come in for supplies and socializing periodically. We also have 3 girls in our Aimag that live in Khorhorin, but it is just a easy for them to go to UB, so we see them less. Soumers have been described as the red-headed step children of those of us who live in Aimag centers. Hahaha Anyway, so then the four of us headed to the museum. I hadn't been there yet, so I was just as excited as our visiters. Once we got them to come and open the door for us, it was even more awesome than I imagined.

Saturday we visited the Horse Monument and the Russian Friendship Monument. It was my first visit to the horse monument, which has a huge statue of the horse Arvaikheer is named after. What a famous horse. The Russian Friendship Monument was great. Really windy and cold, but it so beautiful up there. I also felt really friendly towards the Russians as usual.

Sunday, today, I am just hanging at home soaking up my new technology. I got to talk to my dad briefly and to the birthday girl, so I am happy. I need to eat the chicken breasts I bought in UB before it gets much warmer, so I am feasting on blackened chicken tonight. Then a shower and some reading and I am ready for the week!

I love you all! love, C

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Internet in Ger!

I now have internet in my ger. Thank you for everyone who helped make this possible. It took all afternoon, with 4 Mongolian men trying to hook it up, but it is here. So many new possibilities, I don't know what to do with myself. Woohoo!

In other news, I had a small grease fire on my stove last night. And then today, in the midst of the internet hook up, my stove pipe got clogged and my ger rapidly filled with coal smoke forcing everyone to evacuate. This gave the 4 four internet dudes something else to work on, and soon all was well. My mother recently reported that she has been smelling something burning at random times recently and we think it is because that is when I am making a fire. My friend Caroline called it maternal sinus symbiosis. She reports that when she farts, her mom gags. HAHAHA She is a person that I like.

Seminar this week at 1st school with a few PCVs presenting. I will let you know how it goes.

Also, the package was from my dear Aunt Casey with canned food and a magazine and coffee. Yum Yum. Still waiting for the duct tape purse with much anticipation.

I miss you all so much. If you have skype, send me your contact info. If you don't...get it! I love internet! love, C

Monday, February 22, 2010

Whirlwind UB visit

Ok, so Monday I visited my friend Uuganaa’s house for Tsagan Sar. We had a really great time and I think I managed to not make too many social faux pas. On the way home a dog decided to bark at me and start to chase me so I bent down to pick a rock to throw at the dog and bent my thumbnail back really far. Luckily I swore loud enough to scare the dog away, but unluckily my thumb was bleeding and pretty painful. Right after this happened our PCMO (medical officer) Amy called me to check on my cough. After complaining about my thumb, (I think to her amusement, bent fingernails are not usually reported to the PCMO, but it JUST happened!), she decided I needed to come to UB and et a chest x-ray and some breath tests to find out why I have been coughing for so long.

Half way between Arvaikheer and UB we usuallly stop at a Hotel/restaurant. Back before Christmas they had some sort of ceremony while I was there and took several pictures. I also had my cat with me at the time. This trip I discovered one of those pictures with the bus driver, the owner, me, and my cat is now enlarged and framed, hanging on the wall. I am famous! hahaha I arrived Tuesday afternoon and immediately ate at a new restaurant called American Burger and Fries which is owned by an ex-pat and is delicious. Unfortunately, I was feeling a little nauseous from the bus ride and I think the burger sent my stomach into shock after weeks of kimchi stir fry and peanut butter toast, and it dod not end up agreeing with me.

Wednesday, my birthday: I spent the morning at Peace Corps, talking to our PCMO (medical officer) and doing alot of waiting. I was very tired from not really sleeping the night before, so after a short nap in the lounge, I was ready to eat again. PCV friend Leila and I went to Luna Blanca of the famous peanut sauce soy nuggets, yum yum. She wanted to get a hair cut and I offered, so we headed back to my guest house and I cut her hair with the ktchen shears. It looked fab if i do say so myself, thanks to the girls at Great Clips for all those lessons! She had to get a pizza for her site mate Peter who was coming to town, so I went with her and got a pizza to go as well. Then a bunch of us PCVs watch New Moon with ridiculous subtitles. Near as we can tell the subtitles had been translated into chinese and back into english, and they no longer made-a the sense. There were several made up words, I love you was mostly translated as I love me, and werewolf was not sexual offender. Much hilarious!

Thursday, the PC staff were in meetings all day, so i met some PCVs for lunch back at American Burger and Fries (AB &F). This time my stomach was more prepared and everthing worked out great. The guy who owns it is really cool and gives volunteers 10% off. Leila took me shopping and I bought a new purple skirt which is amar goi! (very beautiful!) I spent the rest of the day on the internet and watching Julie and Julia which was pretty cute. I think I want to cut my hair like Amy Adams in that movie when I get back to freedom land. I want to see how long it can get in my time here.

Friday I met up with Paul, our other PCMO, and we went to the Korean Hospital where i had a chest xray and a spirometer test. I was pretty nervous as one of our fellow PCVs was told she had to go home the day before for respitory issues, but both tests were ok, not great, but ok. Paul took me to one of his favorite vegetarian restaurants in UB, The Stupa Cafe, which was delicious. There was a sweet cat at the restaurant too, unusual for Mongolia where people are not typically not cat fans. It made me miss my cat and I starting asking about when I could go home. One more exam at PC that afternoon and I was cleared to leave the next day. One of my sitemates was planning on going back the next day as well, so I would have a friend on the bus. I met up with some more PCVs that evening for kinda a goodbye for the PCV who was being sent home, then a late dinner with my sitemate who I haven't seen in weeks!.

I spent Saturday morning running a few last minute errands (Peanut Butter for Patrick! hahaha) and then met some PCVs for brunch. Alas, Nayra's was out fo bacon, but the pancakes were greasy and fabulous, and my left over birthday/valentine cookies were a big hit. Then it was time to get my stuff from Khongor Guest House and head to the bus. We had the only slow cab driver in Mongolia, but the bus didn't leave without us so all was well. The trip went fast, probably due to the benedryl I took as we left, (snore!). And then I was home.

Sunday i did laundry all morning, went to the post office, but it was closed, and went shopping for much needed food. I managed to get my package yesterday and I just got a text saying I have another! Woohoo! Mayhap from Uncle Dave with my long awaited hand-made Duct Tape Purse made and designed by my lovely cousin, Miss Iris Eve! We shall see. I think I got my american debit card activated which I means I can get money and hopefully get internet in my ger this week. That's right folks, high speed internet, no toilet. This is the life! love, C

Friday, February 19, 2010

Quick and dirty

Quick update: I came to UB to see the medical staff and learn more about my cough and breaathing. Several tests later, everything seems ok, if not great, but I burn coal so what are you going to to. I am heading back to Arvaikheer tomorrow. I am very happy to go "home."

Ok there was the "quick" with more on this latest adventure to come later. Now I have to go to bed. But first, I found a book of jokes in the PC office so here is the "dirty."

Bob : "I know my wife is lying to me"
Tom: "How do you know that"
Bob: "She said she spent last night with her friend Sarah."
Tom: "So?"
Bob: "Last night, I was with Sarah!"

ok, that was terrible. sorry, love, C

Saturday, February 13, 2010

neck kisses

Today is the first day of the 3 day holiday that is Tsagan Sar. It is probably the biggest Mongolian holiday. All my plans are pretty vague still, but I will report back on how it goes.

Friday my sitemates and I celebrated my birthday. We ate food, played Monopoly, and sang Karaoke. We played the Here and Now Edition that comes with credit cards instead of cash which was weird, but we had a blast. I won. Hahahaha! Karaoke was a lot of fun as well.

Still coughing. I will probably have to go to UB to see the doctor after the holiday is over.

I just finished HP and the COSecrets last night. British people apparently say revise instead of study. Hahahaha. I don't know why I think the differences between the American and British editions of HP are so funny, but I do.

Aaron is the halogen LIGHT of my LIfE! HAHAHAHA

I like 6th Feet Under, but I skip the first scene of every episode. That is the part where someone dies. I just don't need it.

I miss you all so very much. Everyone give someone else a big kiss on the neck today. It will make you feel better. love, C

Hi Michele. I love you. Kiss Tina for me. On the neck. Hahaha!

love, C

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Everyday is like Sunday

when your sick and don't get out of bed and just sleep, read, and watch tv all day. Which is what I pretty much did last Tues -Fri. Gross. I am tired of being sick. Boo! complain. Boo.

I did feel well enough to climb the mountain (small hill) behind my ger yesterday. With some goats. I was tired afterward, but was it great.

Not much else going on here. I am trying to decide when to go visit Bayanhongor, which, like Rapid City, has a dinosaur park. It also has people I like and a vet. mmm, maybe March.

This a a dull blog. All sick and no play makes Caitlin's blog dull.

I love you all! You are the LIGHT of my LIFE! love, C

Sunday, January 31, 2010

my favorite month!

Happy February! It is the best month of the year!

Last friday I taught an English lesson to some monks at the monastery next to my haasha. It was great. The called me a Peace Corps Valentine. I taught them how to introduce themselves, the difference between volunteer and valentine, and the difference between p and f, which is difficult for mongolians. It was my favorite thing ever.

This past weekend was really great. PCVs Tyson, Brandon, and Marissa came to Arvaikheer from their various sites. It was great to spend time with them. Friday we ate at loving hut, then people came over to my ger, and then some of us went to New Leader Dance Club and busted some moves. My favorite part was when they played the Macarena. Saturday we had lunch at Altan Holboo, one of my top 3 Arvaikheer restaurants. Afterwards I returned home to bake cookies, finish laundry and get ready for our evening get together at Allison's place. Other people climbed to the Russian friendship monument, but I was really commited to those cookies, so I did not. Plus I am lazy. Allison's was eally fun. We ate (broccoli cheese soup, cookies, paprika chips, and Eritrean yum yum. We also played Truth or Dare like all grown-ups do at get togethers. My favorite dare was Brandon having to eat mongolian yogurt out of a cup which was placed between Marissa's knees. So mature.

Sunday a few people came to my ger for Kimchi stirfry lunch, which lasted until about 5. I spent the rest of the evening cleaning, watching the end of Season 3 of Dexter, and taking a shower. I feel kinda crappy today. Boo. I have a hard time feeling healthy for more than 4 days at a time. Its also really polution-y outside today. I don't like, I don't like, I don't like Mondays. But not as much as that one girl didn't like Mondays. At least it is February!

I love you! Be good! love, C

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I finished Pope Joan. I liked it, it was a real page turner. Not brilliant or anything, but good. I am still reading Wizard and Glass: The Dark Tower IV, and HP and the Chamber of Secrets, and have now started The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman, mostly because it is smaller than Wizard and Glass, so I can carry it around in my backpack.

Terrence and Brandon came to Arvaikheer last weekend and Terrence stayed with me Friday and they both stayed with me Saturday night. My ger is really too small to accommodate 2 grown men on the floor, but we made it work. I even treated them to French Toast on Sunday morning. Saturday I went over to my VSO friends Melinda and Antoine's apartement for crepes. Antoine is French, so they were authentic and delicious. For toppings we had a variety of canned fruit spreads that Melinda had made. I even got to try some of Melinda's (who is Australian) vegemite. For those of you who have not had it, I think it tastes a little bit like a spreadable boullion cube. Strong, but not all together unpleasant. I would totally eat it before I starved, if it came down to that.

My cat seems to think that my pillow is the only place she can sleep. This is becoming difficult as it is actually my favorite place to put my head while I sleep. Also, if my hair moves, my cat needs to bat at it, often hitting my face, distrupting my sleep. I do feel a little relunctant to completely banish the cat from the pillow, as I know he remembers such afronts and will get back at me later. I saw a picture headline on the onion which showed a cat and was titled "Kitten thinks if nothing but murder all day." Kinda makes you think...

I went to Book Bridge Library yesterday and sorted books. I really like alphabatizing books, although they sometimes look at me like I am crazy. I really think I can read a majority of the Advanced Fiction section by my COS, that's Close Of Service. Somewhere around July 2011.

Camber, just an FYI, this year July 11 and 12 is Naadam, or the festival of the three manly sports. Wrestling, Archery, and Horseback Riding. It and Tsagan Sar coming up in February are the two biggest Mongolian Holidays. If you can, you moght want to try to come them. There will be a lot of tourists, but it is quite the event to see. Also, you better not use language like that when you come here! hahahaha

A big thank you so Sara and Tony Venhuizen for the package I just recieved, candy canes intact and all! Also to my sweet Aunt Casey, thank you so very much and I hope you got the splinter out. If not, why not make one of the yound men lifeguards at the pool help you. Perfect.

I made my first really impressive meal in my ger yesterday. I soaked dried tofu in a little soy souce and water the night before and stirfried them with Kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage, the national dish of Korea), peppers, and onions. I was amazing, if i do say so myself. See I can cook! And then I did the dishes! I am quite the domestic goddess.

My just internet went out when I was talking to my dad. Poo. I love you dad.

I guess I will have to post this later, maybe tomorrow. Why internet? WHY!?!?!?!

Happy Birthday tomorrow to Aunt Kate!

With help from many people, I was able to contact a nice Mongolian man to start making a frame for my hammock. Hopefully by my birthday, I will have my hammock set up in my ger. Perfection.

Did I mention I was going to get internet in my ger for my birthday? I am! It will be great. Should I get wireless or cord? I need to figure out the pros and cons of each.

ok, now it should work!

love, C

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I can read. But mostly I watch TV.

The bus back from UB was not the party bus. However the rows were really close together, so we were all pretty cozy. We got started late, stop frequently (although not for lunch), Patrick and Brandon were concerned about not recognizing scenery (for a while we wondering if we were going to Bayonkhongor), but somehow we made it to Arvaikheer about a half hour before we usually do. I swear time does not flow the same way here. I immediately met Allison, I got Toulouse (my cat, we are trying Toulous now), and took a cab home. I haven't done much since getting back besides work and rest. I am still coughing a lot and am exhausted all the time. poo poo

I am so entertained right now. I got some new tv show seasons from friends on my external hard drive and picked up a couple new books in UB. I thought I would start to make a list of what I am reading/watching and a short review. Mostly for Miss Madeline, whom I adore.
30 Rock- funny, although I am still mad that it came out at the same time as Studio 60 and doomed it to failure, even though Studio 60 is smarter. The best part is really that everyone here is watching it, so we have inside jokes about it. Also I like Tina Fey and that Jenna girl from Ally McBeal.

Arrested Deveopment- I don't think it is as funny as other people do. It has it's moments and can be nice to watch after something scary (Dexter) before bed...but only since I finished Scrubs.

Big Love- Perhaps my favorite thing discovered since coming to the frozen tundra. I find polygamy really facinating and I really like what's his face and the third wife. They have really nice houses though, so sometimes I get sad. Like when they get ice out of the ice maker in the door of the fridge. :(

Carnivale- I am a little bored in the second season. But the first was really good. And I like Clea DuVall (Madeline, remember that episode of Buffy she was in where she turns invisible and gets to work for the CIA? That was awesome!)

Dexter- Makes me miss my dad who watches it and is too scary for me to watch in my ger. But I do it anyway, then I have nightmares. But not as much if I watch something light like Arr. Dev. or The Simpsons before bed then read a chapter from the british Harry Potter books that the book bridge library has. More on that later

Entourage- Another bit of awesome. Although since it features famous people in hollywood they have a lot of things I don't have. Like showers.

Extras- Hilarious, especially the 1st season. Kate Winslet advising how to have good phone sex while in a nun's habit may be the best thing that has ever happened on british television. (distinction due to Aaron Sorkin, hahaha!)

Firefly- AMAZING! No, this is my favorite show discovered in Mongolia. Joss Whedon is awesome. A big thank you to Madeline for teaching me about Joss. You are even more awesome.

Freaks and Geeks- good show, although I can kind of see why it was cancelled. Seth Rogen is really boring in it though, he got better with age. What happened to the girl? She is good.

Glee- I just started it. Why did my High School not have glee? I love it alot. I wish I was watching it with Jordan. I sing along through most of it.

Rome- Really good, although again a little too scary for my ger. They had indoor plumbing., which gives me some pause here in the hoodoo. I watched it all while during laundry, so now I need a new laundry show. Maybe Dexter would be better then...

The Simpsons- Great for after Dexter watching. I feel a little behind the times just watching it now.

The West Wing- yes I watched it again! I miss Jennie.

I just found out the Brandon is downloading Studio 60 for my birthday! Woohoo!

Currently reading:

A Year of Living Biblically: A guy tries to live biblically for one year. Funny, kind of annoying, makes me think i should write a book about living in Mongolia. He writes it just like a journal, and people say they like my blog, hmmm...

Wizard and Glass: 4th? installment of Steven Kings's Dark Tower Series. It is hard to keep track of all that happened in the 1st three and I think I have 3 more to go. Sometimes too scary to read in my ger, plus I don't have the next one here, so I am going really slow.

Harry Potter: I am re-reading HP because the library here has the British edition of the books. I like finding the differences from the American versions. The first one is called HP and the Philosopher's Stone. Dudley learns the word "shan't" as a baby (as opposed to "won't") and they spell color with a u. Also, I am a nerd.

Lion of Ireland- I got bored after 2 pages so I put it on hold considering I am reading about 7 other books at the same time.

Pope Joan- I just picked it up in UB at Greg's house. He let me take it, I didn't steal it! Just finished the introduction. I have heard good things.

What Dreams May Come-I haven't checked this book out, but I read it when I am at the library. It's pretty bad. I didn't even like the movie. Why am I reading this?

Recently finished:

Mere Christianity, CS Lewis- I prefer Narnia and felt it was rude that he could give me his side but he wasn't around to hear my arguments. Still I feel more cultured, so that's something.

Water Music, TC Boyle- I generally liked it. They talked alot about how hot it is in Africa, which was sometimes frustrating. I am reading it while in my sleeping bag freezing to death, but whatever. The descriptions of the enourmous queen were amazing.

Twilight-I hate myself. It's a disease! Sometimes it is good to just have something mindless to do. Plus Patrick read them with me so there!

I am really hungry, so I am going to go home now. I will add more later if I forgot some. love, C

Friday, January 15, 2010

UB! I am so poor!

The rest of the H1N1 shots for us Peace Corps Volunteers finally came in. This means anyone volunteer that hadn’t already received the shot due to their remote location or size or medical issues, had to come to Ulaanbaatar last weekend or this weekend. So Thursday morning, Patrick, Terrence, and I headed to UB on the 8 am party bus. The party bus is something other people had experienced, but this was my first time. It featured disco and laser lights as well as the most amazingly ridiculous music videos from a band called Modern Talking. 80s hair, keytars, and then later they added a rapper, I assume to help bring them into the next decade. At about 9 the karaoke started. Interestingly, at about 1030, the karaoke and music stopped, ridiculous Mongolian TV came on and apparently the party was over. I think once the sun comes up, the party is pretty much over. We arrived at about 2 pm and I headed to the PC office. Later that night we headed to Twilight bar for a few hours. It is really nice to hang out and see people I usually don’t get to see.
Friday I went back to the PC office for my H1N1 shot and ended up having to get Hep A and Hep B as well. Then a bunch of us went to Avatar at one of the two movie theatres in UB. It was an amazing movie and really fun. The screen was huge and there was popcorn, so I was really happy. Later I spent some time online and then went to Ix Mongol Restaurant and had a couple of beers with a bunch of volunteers. There are a few M19s that are getting ready to leave, so it was nice to see them before they head out.
So far on this morning, I came to Nayra’s cafĂ©, had pancakes and bacon and OJ and have been trying to get some research done on the Internet. Where should I go to grad school? What should I go to grad school for? Hmmmm.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

boop boopidoo yeah

1. Eastern Orthadox Christmas meal with dishes from Eritrea was awesome. I love food and it is really funny to watch Mongolian taste spicy dishes. They no likey.

2. In 2 hours I will sing Popular from Wicked in front of my whole school. I needed a song without the words, Karaoke style, and this is the only solo I have. I wish I was Kristin Chenoweth.

3. Ate at Luving Hut again today. yum yum

4. Apparently my counterpart Tungaa wants to curl my hair for the occasion.

5. It is Andy's birthday today. I am so happy you were borned and that Canada exists so you could be from there. Happy Birthday!

5 1/2. It is cousin Kim's birthday. I am also glad you were borned. And glad I was born first. HAHA! Have fun celebrating in Steamboat! Happy Birthday!

6. Facebook gave my parents a C- for naming me Caitlin. I give facebook a D+ for being called facebook. It's so trendy like celebrity kids names. Apple, Pilot Inspektor, Zoltan, and the like. On the other hand if Sarah Palin was my creator my name would be Loin Falcon Palin.

7. I have a pot of water on my stove at all time to humiditize my ger a little. It was suggested that is I put in yummy smelling esential oil type drops in the water, my ger would smell nice. It is being added to the list to your left.
<------------------ That way.

8. I miss you.

9. My power cord that my lovely Uncle Dave ordered for my computer, made possible by donations from Jack and Bea, Dave, and Viewers Like You, has arrived at it's preliminary destination to be couried to Mongolia by a friend of mine returning from Christmas Holiday in the sun. Thank you unamed friend and those family members that made it possible!

1o. I love peanuts in the shell. They are delicious. I can use the shells in my cat litter mixture. And they bags they come in are good for small trash bags. It's the little things...

11. I love my sisters. Alot. Also, they need to stop bothering our mother when she is on the phone with me. I will eat them.

Love, C


Sorry I have been so neglectful. I just have not really felt in the mood to update. I still don't really, but we shall see where this goes.

Last week my school had "monita." Which is essentially a secret santa gift exchange coupled with a sort of awards ceremony. I sang "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" which was terrifying and funny considering the event was on New Years Eve. Many teachers received cakes and champagne and placks from the director and another teacher dressed up as Santa, only wearing blue and white, which I think comes from Russia. Mongolian New Years has a lot of christmas elements. In fact most people seemed shocked and a little jealous when I explained that we have both. Americans don't get Tsagan Sar which happens in February this year, so I guess that makes up for it. It was fun, although it started late, ended late, and I was freezing the whole time. I got a package of goodies (juice and chocolate) from the school and an awesome picture from my "monita." The picture has 3D qualities to it and is of the 4 friendly animals. (Dove on a Rabbit on a Monkey on an Elephant, which I think comes from Buddhism.) I gave my "monita" a card I made for Loving Hut restaurant Dinner for Two.

Afterwards, All the PCVs in town got together at Esayes's new apartment. (His previous one got flooded.) I had one drink, waited until midnight, and went right to sleep. Esayes and Brandon stayed up to watch LOST, but not this kid. I like sleeping so darn much. Although, my wallet went missing earlier that night, it was a pretty good New Years. (In spite of the fact I was too tired to jump off the couch at midnight)

The next morning, I got up super early and walked with Brandon to the bus stop. I sent him on his way to UB and headed home. It was a long cold walk to take so early in the morning, so I took a nap to reward myself.

That weekend I made more christmas cookies and took some to the post office after they called to tell me I had a package. They seemed to like them and the package from my glorious mother had food coloring in it, so the second half of the cookies had red and green frosting, while the first half only had white and vaguely brown, from chocolate powder.

This week has been fairly univentful. Patrick came back from his American holiday, which is nice. I also found out from my friend Melinda who is a VSO volunteer from Australia that a Mongolian man she knows is interested in building a frame for my hammock. I really hope this happens. It would be so much fun to have my hammock up in my ger, plus it would mean having guests without sleeping on the floor.

Tonight is Eastern Orthodox Christmas, so we are heading over to Esayes's again for some traditional Eritrean dishes. I twisted my knee yesterday walking home. It was already feeling a little sore, i think from all the squating I do, and now it hurts alot. poo poo Tomorrow apparently is some sort of competition that I am expected to sing an English song at. oh boy!

I miss you all so very much! love, C

PS It is very funny to me what is happening on Facebook right now between PCVs here and their friends at home. Their friends keep posting how cold it is in America and the PCVs are getting a little haughty about it. Things are being posted like, "YOU THINK THATS COLD!" and "YOU HAVE CENTRAL AIR YOU WEENY!" and "it's NEGATIVE 35 here and all I have is coal and a stove!" HAHAHAHA!