Sunday, July 4, 2010

4th of July in Mongolia

Today is the 4th of July, which has no significance to anybody here except Americans. I tried explaining "large American holiday" to my host brother, but I think it was lost in translation...which is a common occurrence. About 15 of us went to a Korean restaurant for dinner because the large Mongolian restaurant in town was out of food (another common occurrence). No fireworks...just an normal evening here. Also, there is no World Cup soccer on, and the other channels are difficult to understand or in one of the following languages: Mongolian, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, or Korean. On to a recap of the past week: the business group went to UB for a tour of 6 small businesses....very cool and informative. Unfortunately, I also got food poisoning that day....which resulted in 24 hours of misery and 3 days of no food. I am easing back into it (dinner was rice with vegetables). Ashley was healthy this week, but a large contingent of PCers have been sick with food related ailments. On Thursday night, the business class taught English to locals. This was a new experience, but went pretty well. 8 people showed up and had various levels of knowledge. Next week we are going to break into beginner, intermediate, advanced classes. This weekend was pretty uneventful....studying languages, hanging out with friends, watching soccer. We took a run into the countryside and came across 2 large cemeteries, very interesting. The dirt is mounded above the bodies and everything faces south (sacred direction). The weather has been nice, though often hot in the sun. Very few clouds, but sometimes windy which creates dust storms. Hats and sunglasses are required.

Housing Update: I live in a 2 story brick/cement house. It has 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Very large for this town. No hot water in the shower. I think the water coming out of the tap is about 33 degrees. I have determined that taking 1/2 gallon of hot water from the sink to finish off an ice shower makes all of the difference. Clothes washing is done by hand, so the standard for cleanliness has been substantially dropped. It only gets washed when it is visibly soiled or smells.

The building with the blue sign (hoosnee delgoor - phonetic) is Ashley's host mom's food market. It carries basics, like eggs, bread, drinks, candy, toiletries, etc. Basically, all of the PCers use her store now. She also takes requests from us for special orders (Haribo gummy bears, cheese). Ashley's apartment building is behind. Better pictures in the next post.

The other place to buy needed items is the white market (picture beside). This is a 2 story "stall" type facility with many vendors. Most of the vendors carry the same general types of products, but some are more specific (clothes, shoes, meat, grains, etc). We usually end up here once a day to look around or shop or practice our Mongolian.

This week is "Mid-Center Days", which means that all of the PC's regroup for 3 days of training, etc. We have our practice language exams on Tuesday...just prep for the end of summer real exam. The training this week is also more specific on a few topics. We also have interviews with our trainers on our cultural integration, host family stuff, and preferences for site placement. Ashley and I don't have any we have no idea where we will be. Some people specifically want one location or another, but we are open to anything. Preferences are not always met, so this keeps us from getting our hopes up and then potentially being disappointed. We won't know our site placement until ~Aug. 20th.

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