Long overdue salutation are in order, again it has been a while since my last few updates, what with holidays, lazy days, busy days and cold days appearing on a variety of times, I've not really been able to get behind this computer screen and say hello to anyone on the world wide web. So this time it's different. I think.
I thought this might be fun to do the typical day scenario, but maybe put a slight twist on it. As my days are never really the same, I though I might try to describe the scenery, people, animals and general interesting things that I encounter on my walk to and from school in Arvaikheer. Naturally, other accounts might differ, but they are wrong.
I'm kidding, they just happen to live somewhere different than my little corner of suburban Arvaikheer. Enjoy.
ONE FINE DAY
My phone alarm awakens me in a state of frozen confusion. What time is it? 8:30....not bad, in fact some would say "lucky for you, you don't have to get up so early." The only argument I see with this is that those of you who live in a somewhat more cosmopolitan atmosphere can enjoy the benefits of radiators, showers and Mr Ccoffee. So I arouse myself from my sleeping bag and blankets and do the first thing any PCV must do when living in a Ger. Put on long underwear and make a fire. Ger's aren't bad, but they often have holes where they shouldn't be (okay mine does) and fires only last a a couple hours into the night. So after boiling water, eating my muesli (thanks for the packages, dried fruit and nuts ensure I enjoy the breakfast of champions) and some coffee, I dive into my nicer clothing (long underwear underneath) and wander outside of the Ger to school. Since I live in my directors yard,(hashaa in the term) I will say hello to my Arvaikheerian girlfriend. She's rather fuzzy and tries to push me over whenever there is a chance, but as long as I feed her some meat every I am allowed to keep my limbs. Her name is Aslan, and she's a big "puppy". I might also enounter my hashaa brother or sister wanderingto the outhouse and a short simply greeting is exchanged.
"Going to work?"
"Yes, how's your morning?"
"See you later, don't forget to chop wood!"
And away I go.
Walking out of my yard and down the alleyway to the main road, I often encounter 4 or 5 other dogs lazying around, fighting or simply staring into space. They don't bother you, you don't bother them. End of story. Except when they are feeling amorous, then it best not to bother them at all, because hormones control most of their movement. After some Hello's, Hi's, Sain Bain yy's and puzzled stares from everyone, I walk across the gravelled field and past the petrol station. The gentlemen in the bright Orange suit always smokes his morning cigarette 20 feet away from the pumps, which I applaud.
Its often at this point I attempt to cross one of the main roads in Arvaikheer. It connects the suburban paradise I call home to the main shopping area of the city. I've only been walking less than 10 minutes but at this time of year, my lungs are burning. Excerise is a problem here, but that's not what I'm referring to. Coal and chopepd wood are the main heating sources, so the air is naturally filled with smoke. This is not pleasant. When summer comes around it will dissipate, but sometimes its rather hard to breathe in the mornings, so wrapping the scarf around the mouth and nasal area helps. I should also add that some of the cars on the road have not passed an inspection in a say, a couple decades, so they tend to belch a little sleepy smoke as well. Not to mention the motorcycles and people kicking up dust.
Honestly, it does clear eventually and I am writing this to be entertaining, but some mornings are not helpful when it come to breathing.
5 minutes later I walk by one of my fellow PCV's school and am greeted with a verbal barrage of pigeon English.. sometimes they are correct, sometimes not so much. What I enjoy the most and am still having trouble not smiling is when they walk up to you and say "goodbye"....very cute indeed... it odes make the day brighter...but I hear a chorus of greeting and sometimes the odd "what's up", so my day continues to get better. The sun is often up by now and as we seem to have many sunny days, it helps my caffeine kick in a little stronger. Sadly though,m this time of the year brings a touch of frost. On your fingers, toes and any exposed skin. In 5 minutes. So its a little cold but the 20 minute walk to school helps to warm the body and mind. Strangely, though we are in the middle of January and the last couple days have been rather pleasant, I shudder to think what will happen next. Weather in Mongolia could be compared to a season of "Lost"; what's going to happen next?
As I walk through the main square I pass the battle memorial, the government building and various people all quite bundled up against the cold. Crossing another small road and trying not to slip on the ice and frozen snow, I notice that there might be a couple men feeling the effects of last night's karaoke session. This doesn't happen everyday, but it happens enough to know they are not good to talk to. Drinking is a problem in Arvaikheer, but it is a small handful of people who tend to spoil it for everyone. Naturally, I avoid this situation when I see it and continue to school, where after a short 5 minute walk down another road, littered with hashaa's, some rubbish, a stray dog or three and 2 very abandoned buildings, I come up to half a radiator dug into the ground; my school gate. Walking through the ground involves several more greetings and I am nearly at the door. Except for one or two children who wants to practise their English, which as I should stop to chat. these chats last about 4 minutes and involve the extend of the English and some Mongolian, but it's actually quite fun. How are you? Where are you from?, My name is..., I live in..., Are you a Mongolian? (seriously), Do you like meat? I'm hoping to help my teachers give a little more conversational variety, but more on this later.
So I must get some work done, but part 2 will appear later this week. Thanks for reading, if you have any questions do let me know, and of course a cheeky comment or two is always appreciated!