Friday, June 23, 2006

Monglia 2

I’ve been with the host family for less than a week now and I already feel as comfortable as if I were in my own home. So Mom, you don’t have to worry, they are taking good care of me. Last night my other two siblings came home from UB. Sarachimeg just graduated with a degree in sociology of education, and I don’t know what Munchbaatar was doing there, maybe just hanging out with his older sister. Communication is already getting a little easier, and I’m really hoping that by the end of next week I’ll be able to have decent conversations with them. Even without being able to talk with them, we are all having a good time with each other. We go outside and play volleyball or toss the Frisbee around. They love the light-up Frisbee that I brought with me that we can throw around at night. After that, they put on the disco lights and I put on some hip-hop and we danced and took pictures. I called it disco Tumurbaatar after the dad. They absolutely love taking pictures and like looking at them afterwards even more.

Today is Saturday, the first day that I don’t have language classes in the morning, and the first day that the whole family is all together. If I understand correctly, we are going to spend the day driving around the mountains and then go to the river (Gol of Bayangol, Bayan means rich). We are surrounded by mountains where I am, it is absolutely beautiful. One of the mountains is a holy mountain, which apparently means that men must have a purpose to climb it and women a purpose to walk around it (they aren’t allowed to climb to the peak). There are three different types of holy mountains in Mongolia, and they are named according to what type they are. There is one mountain that is the holiest near UB, and it has all three names.

Tonight, a couple of Peace Corps friends from a different town are coming in to visit one of my friend’s birthday who is here in Bayangol with me. It will be fun to see them, not only to see them, but also to see what life is like for them. We are in one of the biggest soums with 5,200, but they get as small as about 400. I’m sure we will have opportunities to travel to some of the other soums, but for now I have no idea what life here is like except for here and in Darkhan. By the way, its hot here, maybe around 85-90. It’s a real dry heat, so you don’t sweat much, but it adds up when you don’t shower for 3-4 days at a time. It stays light out until about 11 at night, and there has been a full sky of stars just about every night. I have still yet to ride a horse, but I think that is coming soon. Let’s hope.

Oh, and yesterday I had grits and innards for breakfast. Blood sausage, heart, liver, and who knows what else… all from the sheep that we killed the night before. Mongolians kill sheep by making a small incision in the chest and then reaching inside and disconnecting the aorta. After the sheep dies (pretty peacefully actually) they skin it (also very cool to watch how they do it) and take out everything edible (some of which I ate for breakfast). None of my friends here have had any of this kind of experience with their host families (eating sheep’s head or killing), so we are trying to figure out if my dad is just a badass or if the other families are avoiding it because they have heard Americans are squeamish. I know a volunteer last year, who was vegetarian before he got here, actually killed a sheep himself when his family went on a picnic one weekend. So who knows what we have in store for us.

For the time being though, I’m just concentrating on getting my Mongolian as good as possible so I can talk with this wonderful family who has been doing so much for me. Off to the mountains!


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