Tuesday, July 19, 2005

July 20th

Saturday June 25th 2005
Weekend bliss

Classes again on Friday, but today George from the Peace Corps came out to sit in on our language class, after which we had our first culture class with him. Over all it was a pretty normal day. I was able to use the internet at Julie’s Host Father’s work. YAY! Therefore everything up to this is posted! Friday night we watched Big Fish at Ben’s which was a nice time. Saturday, the group of Peace Corps Volunteers in the next local town came by train to spend the day with us. We went for a hike to the woods and then spent to majority of the day swimming. My sunburn is much much better, although all the skin on my shoulders has literally peeled off!! We took the visiting peeps back to the train station at 4 and sat around till 5. They had been informed that the train was suppose to come then. That was not true. We found out that the next train came at 11:20 at night, therefore they were going to hike the 15kilometers home, but at the last minute was able to find a MikerBus to take them. Mik’r Busses are basically vans that serve as taxis but are not owned by companies, and they will fill as many people as possible into them, aka 15+. Well they each at to pay a 1,000 Tugs. Which is a lot in Mongolian money (90cents US) but they paid and left. I took a nap and a semi cold shower this evening, and chilled a bit at Ben’s. I decided to let him cut my hair to a shorter length using his clipper, razor thing, but of course power went out half way through, therefore I will fix it tomorrow. This evening Julie, Susie and I went to the dance at the cultural center, aka (High school dance style) They played a lot of Mongolian Pop and Dance music. Like always Drunk Mongols around. Another good night.

Monday June 27th 2005
Another Manic Monday

Well Sunday too was uneventful. I woke up around 11ish, and chilled around my Host Families apartment. I then went to Ben’s for a bit and headed back home. Our Bagsh, Teacher came by to get each one of us to go buy food supplies at the store for the food we were going to cook that night. She was going to teach us how to cook traditional Mongolian food. We stopped by 3 of the 4 stores in town before we were able to get most of the products we needed. I loved the half-frozen meat in the semi-freezer, not wrapped etc. We made an array of meat dumplings and meat in fried dough. I went home and went to bed.
Monday was also uneventful. Language class from 9-1, again more kids peeking into our class. Lunch with my host family, and then a 3 hour nap. I then studied, and my family had guest over. Julie stopped by, and my family made us try Airag, fermented mare’s milk. I then went to Julie’s to watch our movie. While sitting on her bed, watching the movie, the bed somewhat caved in, since the mattress is only held up by some type of cardboard substance. Her host dad was able to fix it, but when I left her host mom was def. Not in a happy mood. I said goodbye, and she wouldn’t respond. She defiantly has some issues going on. Ouch.. Another day down.

Wednesday June 29th 2005
Same Ol’ Same Ol’
Tues was the same as usual. We had language class from 9-1, then professional skills class from 3-5. At night, Jess came around to each of our homes to take family pictures. My host father had me wear one of his traditional Dells, which is a long gown sorta, with a sash around the waist. He also had me wear his hat. I wasn’t allowed to touch the hat, but he placed it on my head for me. It is Mongolian custom for men not to touch another man’s hat. Today I had language class from 9-1, lunch then Teaching English as a Foreign Language class from 3-5. Mongolian Language class was difficult today. Jay taught an English class today for some local Mongolian children, to give us ideas on how it goes. It was kind of cool to watch, and I am excited about learning to teach English as a Foreign Language. Tonight, I went home to prepare my presentation for our afternoon class tonight. My presentation is on Preventive Health and Self-Empowerment. I took several activities from our “How to survive teaching Health to Primary students” text book. It should be interesting. I then played Frisbee with the local Peace Corps peeps. Next week is Mid training days in Darkhan. Yay. We all get to see each other again and stay in a hotel. Right after that is the Nadaam festival, then our community development project, our health project, my health presentation, a 40 minute English lesson I will have to teach, then our Mongolian Language test. July will be quite the time. Oh yeah and 3-4 days in UlaanBattor doing our shopping at the Black Market, and doing research, and eating American Food! And maybe catching an American movie in ENGLISH. Yay.

Thursday June 30th 2005
This morning I had rice and sausage for breakfast prepared for me by my host father. As always it was good. Got to love that rice, the staple of my diet here. I really cant wait till I am on my own, and I can turn the rice more into a stir fry than just rice and meat. Some vegetables!! And maybe a sauce of some sorts. Lol. 3 weeks till Ulan Bator visit, and I can get American food. Class was more stressful than ever today. I almost had a melt down! I just couldn’t grasp it. I have decided to call Mongolian the language of Yoda, from Star Wars that is. In English, you would say “The Ball is onto of the table.” Mongolians would say “Ball table onto is it” So when one translates the words into English that’s what it would sound like, so not only am I learning all new words, a new alphabet, I am also trying to master a different sentence structure. Easier terms: “I tomorrow swim will be.” Its when you add the adjectives and adverbs that mess it up. Well anyway I survived another 4 hour class, even though I am not sure how. I finished watching Anchorman at lunch, which I started the night before. I had a Health Profession class this afternoon, in which each of us had to give our first informal 15minute lecture/presentation. I chose to speak on the topic of Self-Empowerment. It went off without many hitches. Had to scratch my second activity do to timing, but that was good, since I realized that would most likely be the case when I created my lesson plan. We then met to discuss our health project do at the end of summer. We have decided to deal with the subject area of nutrition. Updates to come. Had Boutz for dinner. Meat and potatoes in a flour based shell steamed. Not a fan of the meat still, especially seeing the way it is stored and handled here. Studied at Ben’s and played a little Frisbee. Thinking about everybody at home, and miss you all so much, especially you Mom and Dad!! I love you lots. Later

Friday July 1st 2005
Month Number 2!!
Again Language class from 9-1. My host father fed me rice, eggs and sausage for breakfast, but first I went for a light run/jog with Julie and Jess. Jess is a little more in shape, and I couldn’t keep up with him. Language class was a little easier today. Although it was hard, I could follow most of the class and what the general topics were. Lunch was fish(very bony), some type of weird salad that’s made of a lot or vegetables that I couldn’t distinguish and was very spicy, therefore I had to fix it with rice. We had the afternoon off, so Ben, Julie, Susie, and I decided to take a walk/hike. We went over the river, and through the woods and almost made it to the mountain, but decided to head back to the river for a quick swim. Each way of the hike was around 1 hour and 15 minutes, so a nice 2.5 hour walk(and a good speed). The river def. Has lost its depth, since it has rained a lot less than the first several weeks we were here. The weather was around the 90s again today. After dinner (noodles with potatoes and meat) I called home. Great to talk to my mom even though it was really quick. We then went and played a game with Jess’ host family. The game is hard to explain, but is played using the ankle bones of goats. I def. Will buy a set of ankle bones from the souvenir shop in U.B. We then watched half of Garden State on my laptop and now its off to bed.

Saturday July 2nd 2005
Sleepy Saturdays

I woke up today around 10:30ish. I was originally was suppose to go for a jog with the gang at nine, but decided I wanted to sleep longer. When one of the others wants me, they usually just call up to my window from the street which they did at 9 when I didn’t show. It is convenient when people can just yell up to me from the street (since my window is always wide open) but can be annoying when there are drunks on the street or little kids out till 2am playing. (that’s right the little kids are outside at all hours without their parents) This afternoon I watched several kids playing on top of a storage shed outback. This is about 10 feet high and the roof is made of metal, and it was raining, therefore very slippery. The 10 year olds were pushing the 5 year olds off the side so they would fall 10 feet. There isn’t such thing as adult supervision here in Mongolia, and the children have free reign of the streets. Our English teacher had told us if we wanted to learn how to dance a traditional Mongolian dance, she would teach us at 11, but I decided to skip that in favor of washing my desperately needing it, clothes. It is such a chore to wash all your cloths by hand in a tub. I cant even describe how much dirt came out of them. They are now hanging all over the apartment, and maybe they will be dry in several days. Lunch was rice, and sausage. I slept most of the afternoon, watched part of a movie, and listened to the rain. Dinner was Boutz, which are boiled meat and potatoes in a flour pocket. At 8 I went to Ben’s. We originally were going to play Frisbee, but it was raining still. When the rain subsided, the most beautiful rainbow ever appeared. We were all awestruck. For one thing the colors were deep, and both ends lead directly to the ground on opposite sides of the city. From the hill where Ben’s house is on, we could see it hit the ground on at both ends. I came home around 11pm,and watched another movie. Swingers. Tomorrow is going ot be a hard day of studying, since we have our first big language test on Tuesday, which is important if we want to stay here in Mongolia.

Sunday July 3rd 2005
And then there was stress

I woke up around 9 this morning and cleaned my room till 10, which is when I met the gang for our daily run. We ran over the river and to the woods, and then came back and chilled at the river, well semi in the river since the mosquitoes are so bad right now. I came home around 11:30 and my little host sister made me lunch which was rice sausage and eggs. I studied and slept till 2, and then went to Ben’s to review for our test with our teacher (Who by the way doesn’t know English). She managed to convey to us to our test is tomorrow and not Tuesday like she had previously stated! That someone from Peace Corps would be here tomorrow morning to administer our oral exam. Therefore the heat is on. I thought I had a whole extra day that no long is true. We studied as a group from 2-4, and then I came home from 4-8 and studied by myself. At 8 we met our teacher and her co-teachers to study some more. Each of us was grouped up with a Mongolian and practiced our verbal skills.. Yikes it was hard. Oh yeah, Julie and I saved a cat from the gutter hole on the side of the cultural center. Now the sole cat of the town loves us. Mongolians hate cats! Well I studied at the school till 10 and then Julie and I came home and studied at my place till 11. Wish me luck tomorrow. Yikes

Monday July 4th 2005
Independence Day
I woke up at 6:45 this morning to go running. Julie decided she needed more sleep, so it was just Susie and I on our run. My host dad fed me rice sausage and egg, and I went to the school around 8:30 to study for our exam. Inkbat, our teacher tried to convey that Chimgee would be here after she tested the Hongour peeps, so therefore we sat around all morning waiting. Like usual, a drunk man continued to harass us. We think he wanted us to tutor his two children in Mongolian. Julie Jess and I chilled out on the roof of the cultural center. I played with the two neighbor boys, who I call Monkey Dee and Monkey Doo. They are brothers, one 6, the other 4, and the 4 year old copies his brother to a T. It kind of reminds me with my brother as a kid. New development in the town, the store with the good ice cream moved. Lol, that’s important. While waiting for Chimgee, we made an ice cream run. There was also this little girl that tortures her puppy by carrying it everywhere by its stomach. She let us play with it for a bit while she was inside, but we let it sleep because that’s all that it wanted. Inkbat told us around 12:30 that Chimgee wasn’t in fact coming till tomorrow, but as we were about to leave she shows up. That’s Mongolia. Our exam was one on one verbal with her, and went pretty good. After lunch we all went to the river and swam and chilled on the waterside. This evening, we chilled at Ben’s and finished our movie from several days ago. Garden State

Saturday July 9th 2005
Back to Salkhit

I returned to my little town today, after spending since Wednesday in Darkhan for Mid-PST Training. It was great to see everyone again. We had a good ol time and went to the Dance Club all three nights. I found out that the post office decided not to sent the postcards I bought and that I placed stamps on, and instead was re-selling them for a cheaper price. That’s Mongolia. Tomorrow we had planned on going to another town to visit other Peace Corps volunteers and see the Nadaam Festival, which I have just learned that I cant go too, since the train wont be running all day, I cant get home, and like the rest of my group, I cant spend the night there, because my family wants to take me to the country on Monday. Oh well, I will see Naddaam next year.

Monday July 11th 2005
A Mongolian Adventure

I awoke Sunday morning with Susie calling for me below my window. She was getting ready to head to the train station and wanted to double check that I wasn’t coming. I told her no, but that I would run up to Jess’ and Ben’s with her. After heading home, my host parents inform me that we are trekking out to the Houdo (Countryside) today instead of Monday. I pack my bags, and ship out. Later on around 11:30 I am informed by my family that we are in Byangol (Spelt horribly wrong) This is the town I was originally suppose to head too with my friends. We watch the wrestling for about half an hour and then watch the horse racing, and that’s when I run into everybody, but as soon as I see them I am informed that we are moving on out. The wresting was interesting. The men wear colored Speedo type bottoms and a shirt that only goes to their midlevel, but is long sleeve. Before and after each match they do this bird dance. Well anyway we continue to head to the countryside, to my host father’s families home (Ger). We finally arrive in the late afternoon. At this time I get to watch several men slaughter a goat, and then cut it up. Which I will be served later. Well, I went to the river, etc, all the normal routine of mine. Tonight I am sleeping outside!! Yay, but I have my standard Peace Corps issued –20 weather sleeping bag to test out, so I will be fine. At around 1:30, I awake by the sounds of a BULL about 2 feet from my head grazing. Now I don’t know if I should stay still or move about. If I stay still I fear the Bull will walk on me, and if I move I might freak this beast out. Luckily, my host dad shows up right on time, and rids the problem for me. At 7am I am awaking to rain. Yay. Well I spend most of Monday lounging around, reading my book, and having a stomach ach. Their squat john is worst than the ones I have seen so far. Instead of a 20 foot hole, it is like 3 feet, and there are only 2 boards to stand on. My host dad’s dad continues to try and convince me to take shots of vodka stating that it will make me feel better. Yay right!! So I keep on rejecting, even though my cultural sensitivity tells me otherwise. Around 7pm we decided to head on out. Now this is where the real adventure starts. Over the first hour or so our car breaks down twice, which really isn’t anything unusual. But later on, as it starts to become dark, things progressively get worst, as I am trying to fight off the stomach aches, and the lack of hydration (Since someone drank all my water, so I hadn’t drinking anything all day!!) One needs to remember that the roads here are less than dirt roads home in the states. They are more like dirt paths that go through the mountains and valleys. Well our car decides it doesn’t want to make it up some of the basic hills. And finally my host dad starts to tinker with the engine. At this point, the dust storms set in, and so does the rain. Although we are in the car, dirt is someone seeping in. We then spend a greater portion of an hour trying to push the car up a hill, and when we do, we find another hill waiting for us ahead. Another car shows up to help us out, and they spend a great time with us, trying many different things from tying rope to the front ect. After awhile we finally make it to the paved road, and stop to get gas at a persons house. Here, we repay the other car for their help by giving them Airage, fermented mare’s milk. I too take some, as I am dying of thirst. This milk, called the Mongolian Beer, taste like cuddled milk. We continue our way, and several times break down, but finally arrive home around 1:45am, which means 6 hours and 25 minutes on the road. We return to find that the refrigerator gave way leaving the apartment smelling like raw meat. My host parents begin to throw out massive quantities of meat, which I feel bad about, but at the same time realize that’s less meat for them to serve me. Night

Tuesday July 12th 2005
Another Day of Adventure

First off, I forgot to mention when I showed up to the Naddam Festival with my host family, a police officer came up to our car, and started screaming at my host dad while pointing at me. My host father yelled back, and gave the police officer a bribe, and that was that.

Today I woke up around 10am and lingered around the house for a bit. Around noon I went to Ben’s house to find that Julie and Susie were already there. We chilled out there for a bit, and then Julie and I went to the store to buy ice cream and water. Yay, what a great combo. After I went home around 2pm, which is when my host dad requested that I come home. My host dad was doing vodka shots with the neighbor. The neighbor invited me over to his place for lunch which I had with his wife and his two young boys, Ghana, and (I am blanking) They are 4 and 6, and they chase after me every day. They are great kids. Well after lunch I head to the river with Susie and Ben so Ben can do his laundry. While at the river, a massive storm approaches, thunder and lightning and all. As we sprint across the field, we are succumbed by a massive wind/dust storm. Although we just bathed in the river, our bodies are covered in mud/dirt. Dirt was flying into our eyes/face. Well anyway, as we are trying to escape, we end up having to climb a 4 foot + barbed wire fence, which Susie ends up scraping her leg up on. After that, we seek a little bit of shelter behind a storage building, then climb under the train, to get to the town, all while it is gusting hard, with dirt flying everywhere, and I mean everywhere, visibility doesn’t exist. We make it to Susie’s (her home is the closest) and there we use her bath to clean off again, in the dark as the town had lost power. Her mother feeds us, and we watch the storm intensify outside. Later on we go to Ben’s and chill there. I come home and do homework, and then head to Ben’s to chill again. Today was the final day of Naddam and every Mongol is glued to their TV to see who will win the national wresting tournament.

Thursday July 14th 2005
Back to the same old grind

Yesterday morning I woke up at 6:45 and went running with Julie and Susie. I then went to our class building at 9, which was a little confusion. Ben and Jess’ host fathers told them we didn’t have class and we waited for 30 minutes and our teacher didn’t show up, so we decided to head to Jess’ to see the calf that was born over the night. On our walk back home, we had to pass the class room and we encounter our teacher, who states we do have class, therefore while the girls wait with our teacher I trek back to Jess’ and Ben’s to inform them. By the time we get back, the girls had decided with our teacher to cancel class and have class on Saturday as our teacher is very sick with some type of Kidney infection. We all then go home to work on our presentations that was due today.
In the afternoon we all decide to Hike to a mountain and climb it, which was quite an adventure.

Today, I decided to skip our morning run, and showed up to class at 9. This is our first language class since July 1st, and it is the 14th! Wow. We learned the colors and clothing. How exciting. After lunch we had Health professional class where we began to present our student presentations. After class Susie, Ben, Jess, and I went to the river and chilled with some Mongolian Kids, who we told we would give them swimming lessons tomorrow. I came home and wasn’t fed dinner as my host parents were a little tipsy, and then went to Ben’s. Tonight was the 2nd English lesson I gave Ben’s host dad. Today I taught him numbers, and family members! Mongolians can not make the “Th” sound, and it is def. A very common sound in English. I did my Mongoul homework and that’s that.

Friday July 15th 2005
Nothing New

Today I woke up at 6:45 and went running with Susie and Julie. I came home around 8am, and cleaned up my room, read some more of the book I am reading “Holy Cow” and got ready for the day. Again more rice, sausage and egg. Language class was good today. We went over different sizes and types of clothing. Nothing too exciting. Our teacher is still sick so we go out of class 50 minutes early. I take this extra time to catch up on my cultural homework, since we have culture class next Monday. At 3pm, I meet up with the group and head to the river. We told some local kids that we would give them swimming lessons at 5, and wanted to go early to read, but they were already there so we (more so Jess) taught them how to swim better. I had dinner at home, noodles and meat!! Yum, and then went to Ben’s where we all chilled and watched a movie “National Treasure.” We were also informed that the make up class we scheduled for tomorrow will not be happening as our teacher, Inkbat needs to go to Darkhan to see the doctor.

Saturday July 16th 2005
Nothing Exciting

Today I woke up at 9:45, and went running from 10-11 with the crew. After that I came home and chilled around the apartment, watching Russian MTV, etc till 2, which is when I met up with Jess and Susie. We then met up with Ben and went to Julie’s and chilled, watching TV, while Jess and Julie played Chess. We then went to the river, to give more swimming lessons, and I went home for dinner at 6. At 7:30 I went to Ben’s to give his host father another English lesson. I went over different types of food, and days, and numbers. We then all met up and chilled till 11:30. I want to remind everyone how I miss them all so so so much!!! Mom and Dad I love you, and hope all is well.

Sunday July 17th 2005
Mega Hike
I woke up today around 9am. My host mom served me rice, egg, and sausage for breakfast, and I met up with the crew at 10. We had decided to hike to the mountains, and then climb them when we got there. This consisted, of crossing two rivers, a large plain, then the woods, than another large plain, a gully of some sort, then we hiked the mountain, to realize the mountain we wanted to climb was located behind the one we were on so we decided to climb along the ridge to get to the highest peak, which we finally did. After we trekked on home, taking a different route following the train tracks, and then took a swim in the river. Our hike was about 8 hours long, and we were all exhausted when we got back to our village. My body wants to collapse, but was a great work out. My host dad is out in the country for the evening, and my host mom has to work all night, so I am all by myself in the apartment. I think this is one of the first times in 6 weeks that I am actually alone! Wow.

Monday July 18th 2005
A New Week
I am awaking at 5am to someone banging on the front door of the apartment yelling something in Mongol. This frightens me at first since I am the only one home. I then hear the person yelling my name from outside, and look out the window to see that it is my host dad asking me to open the door. The family only has two sets of keys. One which I have, and since my host father was away, the other my host mother has. I let him in than go back to bed. Today I have class from 9-1. Language from 9-11, and cultural from 11-1, meaning the Peace Corps Staff was here this morning. They brought us our first copies of News Week Magazine, which are a month outdated, but it is great to have information about the outside world. Cultural class was interested, we learned about the differences in Mongolian and American births, weddings, and deaths. Mongolians make no preparations for a baby like Americans do, for it is bad luck to buy things in advance. If one goes and visits a house with a new baby (first 6 months) , the individual must bring a gift or the mother’s breast milk will become poisonous and kill the baby. The mother doesn’t bath for the first month after birth, and if she goes out in public she has to plug her ears. Marriages are also unique, for if a women and man live together they are considered married. For those who have a ceremony, it last a week or so, and the Man’s family takes the bride. Deaths are also very different. Only certain family members are allowed to attend the funeral service depending on the deceased individuals Chinese Sign (Dog, Rooster, etc etc) and the Sign of the family member. So if your sign doesn’t get along with the deceased’s sign you cannot attend. Also the graveyard isn’t visited by individuals, like in the states (Memorial Day, etc) for it is believed that visits hinder the spirits. After lunch we were suppose to head to Khongor to the bank to receive the rest of our money since we are heading to Ulaan Battor on Wednesday, and Tuesday the bank is closed for the day of rest. The bus is broken, therefore we end up taking the ambulance, which is a old beat up jeep to the next town over. What an adventure. This evening we had dinner at Susie’s host families place as it was he

Friday, June 24, 2005

First several weeks

Sunday & Monday June 5th & 6th 2005
The Beginning:
Our trip to Mongolia officially began today Sunday June 5th. Staging was held from Friday to Sunday in the Sheraton Hotel near LAX in Los Angles. Our flight left LAX at 12:30 pm, Korean Air. The flight was around 12.5 hours, and was mostly a smooth flight. We arrived in Seoul Korea around 4:30pm (Korean Time) and had a two-hour layover. The flight from Seoul to Ulaan Baatar was reasonably short, around 4.5 hours
After exiting through customs, and immigration, we were greeted (Mobbed) by current Peace Corps Volunteers here in Mongolia. They were huddled around the immigration exit, and hoot and hollered every time one of us exited. It was crazy. It was really cool, and embarrassing to have 40+ people all screaming at you as you exited, especially after being on very little sleep and on airplanes for over 15 hours. We were quickly ushered out of the airport, where we placed our luggage onto trucks, and boarded one of two buses ourselves, where we were quickly briefed about the next several days. By this time it was past midnight Mongolian time
We then took the dirt roads (If they can even be called that), which was bumpy to a Ger Camp about 20 minutes away. Now a Ger is a traditional Mongolian tent, that is used still today by many Mongolians. We were broken up into different tent units already pre assigned. I am with Gerald, and Jess. The Gerr community is so amazing. So many tents, and a larger event hall. The bathrooms are of low quality but better than what we will be using later on. It is so amazing that we are finally here, Crazy. There are wooden carvings all over the camp, which keep reminding me of Mid-evil Europe.

Tuesday June 7th 2005
Cold Nights & Bumpy Roads
Today began extremely early for me. I woke up at 5am, freezing to death!!! Our fire in our tent went out far too early, causing the tent to freeze so that I could see my breath. After trying to find matches in the dark, I gave up, and decided to take a trip around the tented community. The views were amazing. Since we had arrived way past sunset the night before, this was the first time I saw the rolling hills on all sides of us, with a bright blue sky overhead. Several camels were tethered off to the side, while horses, and cows were herding in the fields. Ben and Jess also were awake, so we decided to hike up one of the mountains to get a better view of the area. The views were beyond belief. We had lunch in the larger Ger tent. The US Ambassador to Mongolia came to eat with us and gave words of encouragement. After waiting around for another hour or so, we began our 4 hour bus ride to Darkhan, which is the second largest city in Mongolia, and where we would be having training for the next several months. The roads were beyond bumby! They were not only made of dirt, but contained many holes, etc on the way. The parts that were paved were not any better. Half way we stopped at a WC, aka outhouse, aka, a wooded box with a hole in the ground with no seat, and a gapping 20 foot hole. Many people, ladies alike were forced to use the hills around. We finally arrived at the Darkhan hotel where we will stay till Sunday when we move in with our host families. Jess and I are again roommates. The building has a communist style sense to it. We decided to take a walk around the city, to get a quick view of the sites. The city has a depressing sense to it. Ugly concrete apartment buildings and trash everywhere. It has the feel of a decaying city. We returned to the hotel for dinner, and where local high school students preformed for us. They danced and sang traditional Mongolian songs,. One girl, a contortionist, was able to bend her body into crazy directions, and a throat singer played a traditional guitar like instrument. I went to bed at 9, with the sky still bright as ever.

Sunday June 12th 2005
Today was moving day! Early this morning we broke off into groups of 6 and headed to our home stay villages. Each village only has 6 Americans, so I had to say good bye to 45 Peace Corps volunteers who I wont see for awhile. As we were packing up our stuff into the minivans, several homeless children were straying way to close to our belongings, and it was obvious that they were trying to steal our bags. The trip by minivan was uneventful, but crowded, since there were 8 people plus all our bags crammed into this van. The ride was around 30 mins, and took place over almost all dirt roads. We arrived at Salkhit’s school. The town is really tiny about 1,000 people and is out in the middle of nowhere. The families that are hosting us were all there to greet us. They are as excited and nervous as us. I am introduced to my Mongol father who takes me around the side of the school to where his apartment is. The outside is run down, but once you enter, it is beautiful. It is a 2 bedroom, 1 living room, and 1 kitchen apartment, which is big for Mongolians. I meet his son and daughter, and several other girls. Other cousins, and brothers come to by visit. Conversation is really hard and tiring. I am fed rice ham, and some type of meat that I don’t even want to know what it was. I then go take a nap for 3 hours(lol nap) and wake up to have meat dumplings. At 8pm we go back to the school to meet the other Peace Corps peeps, and are given a tour of the town, which is the school, the store, the post office, and the train station. I come back home and play cards although I have no clue how to play the game. We also watch tv, American movies dubbed into Mongolian, “You Got Mail.” It is pretty hard to have a conversation when you cant speak to each other. It is hard. I showed them pictures of home, which made me a little homesick. My host father is the mayor of some sort of the town, so has clout here. Right now I am watching an ox walk past my window, which is amazing in itself.

Monday June 13th 2005
Today was my first full day here in Salkhit. It was defiantly the beginning of a long uphill roller costar. I could never imagine how hard this would be and I am only a week into the program. I woke up around 9am, and had breakfast with my host family. Breakfast was good: consisting of some sort of French Toast, and egg. At 10 I met the other 5 Peace Corps Trainees at the school, because our Language teacher (LCF) was taking us by a minibus to the next town over to open bank accounts, since Salkhit doesn’t have a bank that is acceptable by Peace Corps standards. To get to the next town, we had to take dirt roads through the hills for about 15 miles. As stated before, these roads are filled with many holes and bumps, and driving on them is always an adventure in itself. While in the next town over, we were awestruck by a dog with 6 legs. After opening our accounts, our teacher took us to the school in this town, as there is another group of 6 Peace Corps Trainees living here and they were in class at the school. After saying our “hellos” we headed back to Salkhit, where we had lunch with our host families. When I arrived home, there were 3 men and 1 woman visiting my family. I was informed they were my host father’s brothers who were all herders. For lunch I was fed meat dumplings of some sort. They gave me 12 of these and I ate 3, although they tried to get me to eat more. I learned the way to please them somewhat. If I planed to originally eat 3, only eat 2, so that when they try to convince you that you need to eat more you can pretend like they convinced you to eat another one. My host father got out his snuff, which I tried along with him to be culturally sensitive. He then brought out his bottle of vodka, which he passed shots around to each person. I tried to just take a sip, hoping to please him, like we were trained to do in training, but that defiantly didn’t please him, so I ended up taking the entire shot. The rounds of shots go around two more times, but these second two times, I am able to get away with taking a very small sip. After lunch we began our first language lesson here on site. We spent an hour learning the alphabet, which is amazingly difficult for there are more vowels that I can count on two hands. After class, we played Frisbee and ball with many little kids on the grassy yard. The children love to play with us. Jess, one of the 6 Peace Corps Trainees living here in Silkhit, is living in a ger (felt tent) for the summer, so we all decided to go check it out. I have the fortune of living in an apartment. Jess’ host father sees us all here, and decides that he needs to offer us food, which we all feel bad about, as money, and food is tight here for these people. The food was good for the most part, dried cheese, and dried fruits, etc. It was appetizing until I found bugs in the cheesy bread substance. Around 5pm, I went home and took a 3 hour nap. My host family woke me for dinner, which was noodles with meat. After which, I went outside to play Frisbee with my host siblings. After heading back inside, I finally was able to have my first scrub down, which was with a bucket and freezing water. Although really cold, it was extremely satisfying. I then had tea and cookies with my family, and am now going to bed. My brain is filled with so many emotions, from excitement, to fear. Like the Mongolian Peace Corps Director told us, we each need to set small goals which helps to ease the stress that we are all feeling. My current goal is to get to shot day, which is this coming Wednesday, when we head into Darkhan to get more shots to make us super humans, and go shopping. After that, my next goal is to get to UB day, our trip to Ulan Bator. If not for these small goals, the stress levels would sky rocket, for there is so much that I have to accomplish this summer and the next two years, that it is crazy to think I will be able to get it all down, such as scoring a Novell high in Mongolian, and learning everything there is, or lack of Mongolian Health care system. It will be great, but hard.

Tuesday June 14th 2005
Today was another ordinary day in my cozy little sourm. We had our first 4 hour language class, which at times was quite difficult. After class I had a lunch break, then 3 hours of Health Profession training, which was quite interesting. We were taught about the Health Care structure of Mongolia, and a lady who works at the regional Health Care program spoke to us through a translator. After our lecture, we visited the local doctor’s office, which was nothing more than one room. This evening, I hung out with the Peace Corps folks, and visited Ben’s and Kristen’s homes, both of which live in wooden houses on top of the hill. Jess and I went to the town dance, which had some famous Mongolian singers at. They were filming the dance, as a promotion to create a local TV network of some sorts. After dancing with the locals, which was quite fun, Mongolian Pop, and hip hop, I decided to venture home at around midnight, as I was scared my host parents would be worried. I find out that they are actually still out socializing themselves. I talked with Kristen today, another Peace Corps Volunteer here in Salkhit, and she informed me that she is seriously contemplating ET’ing tomorrow when we head into Darkhan for shots. ET’ing means early termination, which in PC (Peace Corps) lingo means getting the hell out of here. LOL. I told the others, even though she told me not too, because I wanted them to be supportive tomorrow, and maybe she will decide not to take the plunge. Well only she can decide what is best for her, but I am going to stick it out.

Wednesday June 15th 2005
Shot Day
Today was our group’s first goal marker. Ken, the Director, had previously stated that making small time frame goals makes the summer go by easier. We left for Darkhan this morning to receive our shots at the Peace Corps satellite office. Rabies, and Jap. Encephalitis. We went to the Darkhan hospital, to see what an average hospital is like. There were many differences from an American hospital. Everything seemed a little more dingy. There were no metal walls in the x-ray room and people were walking about that room. Our group had its first ET and it happens to be a girl from our village, which had 6 Peace Corps volunteers. It is sad to see Kristen go, but whatever is best for her. It was nice to be in Darkhan and shop, use the internet, and phone. After returning home, Susanne, Ben, Julie and I went to the river to do our laundry, and swim around. What an adventure that was, do our laundry by hand in water that was muddy and filled with what most likely was manure. LOL, I also clogged the toilet tonight.

Thursday June 16th 2005
Another day in da’ Villa
More classes!!! Yay, I spent from 9-1 learning more Mongolian. Today we actually learned tons of verbs. I had a hour off for lunch, then back to the classroom to learn about the Health system of Mongolia, and the 8 new programs introduced by the government. Tonight we were taught how to make a fire by our teacher and several others at Jess’ Ger. We each had to cut up the wood, and they showed us how to place the cow dung (summer) and coal (winter) in the fire. I then went home to study. The English teacher came by (I think by request of my host parents) because they were worried about me. They wanted to know why I wasn’t eating!!! The funny thing is that I have been, but that they give me portions that are way way way to big. All the Americans have been saying that their families are trying to feed them too much. I guess my host parents killed a sheep today, and I wasn’t eating the meat which made them sad, but I had 3 dumplings, that were each giant, and filled with meat!!!!! They also told me they were scared of me swimming in the river because it is dangerous, cause I could drown. The river is only 3 feet deep. I am from Maine!!! I can swim. Ugh. After I showered up, my host dad called for me, and made me take shots of vodka with him and the guest, which I think are their relatives. I tried to say no, but he refused. So I took the two shots and am now off to bed. For afternoon training, two Peace Corps Trainees from another town come to train with us, since they too are Health Volunteers, it took them 4 hours to get a ride back to their town. We were told that the transportation system is rickety!!! LOL. Oh yay, still having diarrhea for 5 days straight. Peace Corps informed us, that nowhere else will you find that one will talk about their stool so much.

Saturday June 18th 2005
The Weekend!
Friday morning was spent in class for 4 hours, but we had the afternoon off, so we decided to take a hike to the woods, that we can see far off in the valley. Our Mongolian Language Teacher comes with us, Inkbah. Inkbah is great, besides the fact she knows no English! The hike is great. We run into a herd of horses out in the woods, and watch them for a while. We then discover a sand hill, that is a almost a vertical drop, great for making great leaps downwards, since it is sand. We have fun doing that for awhile, but running/climbing back up because quickly exhausting. On the way home, Jess, Ben and I take a quick swim/scrub down in the river. We all meet up at 9 to chill at Ben’s with the O-Jay. Saturday, I woke up at 11 when Susie shows up to study. Ben also comes by. After several hours of studying, we decide to take a walk, but first recruit Jess to come along. We follow the dirt road that one takes to get to our town. We cover about 7 miles in our 2 hour walk, not nearly close to making it to the main road, and the next town over, where 6 other Peace Corps volunteers are located. I come back home and study some more, my host father helps out, and I return to Ben’s at 8 to study more.
What a fun day!

Sunday June 19th 2005
Sunburned Sundays
I woke up at 8:45 today, and ran with Jess and Ben. After coming home an hour later, I found out that my family had planed a trip to the countryside (lol, like we are not in the countryside already) We took the car and headed towards the mountains, passing over the river and through the woods to the other side of the valley. We went to my host mom’s mother’s tent. It was fun to be at a real Ger tent out in the countryside. They had tons of animals, from a watchdog to tons of goats sheep and horses. I rode one of the horses. Our car broke down I think twice on the way there. I spent half the day swimming in the river, and now I am sunburned badly. I think this is the worst sunburn I have ever had. I cant touch anywhere on my upper body with out the worst sensation ever. We headed home around 5, and broke down 2 or so more times. Once I got home I went to Ben’s and studied till 8, and then came home and had fish for dinner. A wind storm blew through. From my window you could see the wind go from 0 to hurricane weather in .5 seconds. Crazy.. It this thunder and lighting, which were both loud and crazy also. Watched a movie on my laptop and now off to bed

Monday June 20th 2005
Sunburned to hell
Today was another normal day out on the range. Class from 9-1 (Mongolian Language) and then lunch which was noodles with meat. We went back to the cultural center for Culture class but we were misunderstanding and actually had no afternoon class, therefore we went to the river and swam till 5pm. My sunburn is bad, and I wore a T-shirt in the river. I went home and crashed, slept till 8 and was awaking to dinner, rice, egg, potatoes, cabbage, and MEAT. I went to Ben’s after dinner and studied till 11ish and came home, my family was eating the meat off of the goat’s head in the living room. They wanted me to try but turned down the offer. Another day down.

Thursday June 23th 2005
Same Old, Same Old
Ok, Been several days since I wrote. Life is the same. Language from 9am-1pm, lunch, then Health Profession, and Community Development classes from 2-5. Tuesday the weather was bad. We had another sand storm. I couldn’t really even open my eyes outside. Wednesday and Thursday are mostly uneventful, except Mongolian language is so so hard. Incase you have never heard Mongolian before, I can tell you where you can here it. The EWOKS in Star Wars, Return of the Jedi, are actually speaking Mongolian. Isn’t that crazy!! friend is sending the movie so we can listen to it, and see if we can understand them speak. I like to think that I am learning EWOKian, and not Mongolian! We have been talking in class about our projects coming up. In Several weeks we have our first language test. We then get to go to the city for several days. We also are going to celebrate Ben and Susan’s birthdays in July. The famous Mongolian holiday, Naadaam is held for a week. It is the holiday of the three manly sports, Archery, wrestling, and horsemanship. We then have to give 2 30 minute presentations to the others in our group. Learn to teach English, and plan a lesson, and implement it solely to the locals. Create and implement a community development project here in our town, and plan and implement a Health related project here in our town, then head to UB (the capital) for several days! July will go by quick. Each day is still a roller coaster, although not as bad as it was at first. I played Uno with my family many times, and we have been bonding over it. Tomorrow night, Friday is relaxation time. We are going to watch a movie at Ben’s on my laptop! Yay. That’s it for now. Love you all so much.

Saturday, June 11, 2005


Hi all, been so busy. Will upload stuff asap.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Family In San Fran

Originally uploaded by jmacom.
This is a test try

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Two Weeks Till Departure

Good day. This is a test trial