Monday, November 2, 2009

Early Days in Hovd: Thoughts from August 25

Taken from an e-mail to my parents, this is when I first got to Hovd (which was a process in and of itself, involving a 5am plane flight on which one of my site mate's new school directors was far too trashed to be let on the plane and was retained, clutching his tallboy of Tiger beer, at the security checkpoint)...

Lovely news from the steppes! Everything is going strangely well. The hardest thing about my life, the rotting mutton in the leftover pots in my new kitchen, is going to get cleaned today! I think asking the former occupant of the apartment, my boss, to take her sweaters out of the fridge where she is currently storing them would be something of a stretch, however.

Last night we went to a 'hore-hog' (that's how its pronounced phonetically, anyway) for my site mate's new school's 30 anniversary. A horehog is a real Mongolian barbecue, normally held by a river of some sort, it involves killing sheep, putting the hacked up parts into a large metal bucket of sorts with hot rocks and placing the whole container on top of a dung fire, all the while erecting lots of gers. When we (two site mates and I) got there the party was in full swing, sitting in a ger with lots of school officials, I learned Mongolian 'cheers' and was fed meat off the bone. After about an hour of this, on top of speeches and more schmoozing and standing around the fire, the speakers came out and literally everyone, from the 70 year old janitor to the young P.E. teacher, got to dancing to terrible Russian techno. They were all very impressed with my moves but it doesn't take much to impress here in the dancing department to be honest. It was just so wonderful that I met new friends (a middle aged, portly Mongolian woman who teaches English at my site mates school attached herself to me and we got along just fine- she loved to dance, speaks great English and sort of took me under her wing for the night) in Mongolia at a sheep roast in a ger in the middle of the most stunning scenery I've ever seen with literally nothing around but a flock of eagles. The more I experience such genuine Mongolian things like that, the more I feel so lucky to be here. I would never have done that nor met any of those people if I hadn't taken the leap and come out here. There have been lots of really affirming experiences like that lately and I know I'm in the honeymoon phase of being out here but I really feel very lucky to have this site.

I'm actually at my first day of work right now and it's a really impressive place. They have lots of good books and resources in Mongolian and English for students. So it seems like there's a lot here for me to work off of but they still need help- they don't have an online catalog of the books and they really want one so i think that would be a good project for me.

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