We have been in our new locale for 12 days now....time for an update. Ashley is working at the health department and it is approximately a 20 minute walk from our apartment. I work in the building adjacent to our apartment, at a small (3 people), local NGO. The first few weeks are difficult because you have to "feel" out the organization and see where you and your skills can fit in. It's like transitioning to a new job in America, but the language barrier makes it much more complicated. The constant request that we both get is to teach English. I am teaching daily 1 hour English classes to my co-workers and Ashley is doing the same. My co-workers are at approximately the same level, so classes are pretty straightforward and applicable to everyone. Ashley's co-workers have varying degrees of English skill, so her classes are more difficult to plan and execute.
My NGO is sponsored by World Vision (the aimag has 3 branches and supports ~3,800 kids). This area has also been designated an "area development program", so they are able to try new ideas and see what has a positive impact on the community. I've been spending considerable time at their office over the past few days and I am planning to spend 10-12 hours per week there. They are planning a series of business and household finance classes this fall, which I anticipate getting involved with. World Vision also has cross-sector projects between education, health, and business, so there is a chance that I will get to collaborate with other PCVs on them.
We now are vegetarians, unless we go to a reputable restaurant or a friends' house. Frankly, it's easier to use vegetables and after my summer culinary experience, I am willing to remove meat from my diet. However, we did find a local restaurant that as really good pizza and burritos, so I get pepperoni or chicken there. We have attempted 1 Mongolian dish using vegetables instead of meat. A common dish is hooshur, which is meat in a bread dumpling, then fried. Well, we made mashed potatoes with carrot, onions, and garlic, then stuffed bread dumplings and sauteed them. In reality, they are closer to pierogies than hooshurs, but still very good. Unfortunately, we are unable to find peanut butter or mozzarella cheese in our new town. I am contemplating trying to make cheese in our apartment...to be determined later.
Also, I have stopped drinking Coke (Pepsi is not available here), after many years of drinking at least 1 daily. Occasionally, I will have a black coffee for breakfast, but tea seems to be sufficient for now.
Our new place is shaping up nicely. I fixed the wiring in the bathroom, the toiler innards, and the trashcan. Ashley has done a fantastic job of cleaning it from top to bottom (are you surprised?). We have purchased a few things, primarily for the kitchen, including bowls, knifes, skillet, hot water pot, etc. Our main water line has been leaking, so it was only on for about 5 minutes a day until last night. Last night, the plumbers came and fixed the valve. They didn't replace it, just pulled out the screw/bearing assembly and fixed that. Plumbers tape (pipe tape) can not be found here (electrical tape is also missing), so the plumber used horse hair (yes, I said horse hair) to wrap the threads before reinserting it. That is ingenuity! Ironically, we woke up and found water all over the bathroom floor. It turns out that the water heater also has a leak, but it only surfaced when the mainline was on long enough to fill the entire tank. We'll address that one this weekend. Lastly, we are still missing 2 critical pieces of furniture and 1 nice-to-have (dresser, couch, table in kitchen to prep on [we have no counter, just a window sill]). We are working with our host agencies to get those resolved. On a positive note, we found out that our apartment is the warmest apartment in the entire city in the winter!
I'm still not able to post pictures, sorry. Thanks for the emails, keep them coming!