Thank you, Decemberists.
Be prepared, my topics are kind of scattered since I basically typed whatever came to my head.
We started our language classes back up full force at the end of last week, with different teachers. It’s been a little hard since I’ve gotten so used to one teaching style, but it’s been nice to hear other dialects of speech. So as Helen has told me, my main drag at the moment is language. We’ve been told that Mongolian is one of the hardest languages of Peace Corps volunteers, and I’m inclined to agree 100%. Mostly though, not a lot is written the way it’s spoken; because the Russians came in and made people learn the Cyrillic text, which they still use. There is a traditional script that the Mongolians use, however. It looks pretty confusing, but really pretty (our teacher said there’s a class that students take to learn it). A lot of volunteers end up getting tattoos of script words. Next tattoo anyone??
This past weekend was awesome. Saturday my family took me to UB to get new shoes (hooray! My flats were falling apart) and material to make my deel for swearing in. We did a bunch of errands first, and then went to the black market, which isn’t so much a market as the biggest-place-you’ve-seen-that-sells-literally-everything-maybe-minus-human-kidneys …place. So anyway, shoes. My feet are big in America (9, 10 or 11 in womans), and my feet in comparison are larger here! Needless to say, it was a bit of a struggle, but I managed to find a pair of dress shoes and sandals in size 42 (cm, I think?). AND my mom haggled the guy for my sandals, because she’s pretty awesome.
Ah, and the black market is known for foreigners getting their shit stolen (actually, UB in general, tons of pickpocketers as we’ve been taught several times already), so my mom was LITERALLY taking me by the hand the entire time. She also insisted to take my purse, because I was like a walking target.
After acquiring my kick-ass footwear, we headed down the rows and rows of every piece of clothing you could imagine. Most of it was from China, however, so you have to be careful of the quality. It’s interesting- Mongolians pretty much hate China (most will tell you openly), but they’re kind of forced to use their products because China borders them (along with Russia) so it’s pretty much the only stuff around. It’s also a but funny because (and a lot of PCVs have said this) that the stuff that we brought from home was mostly made in China, so it seems that we can’t get away.
Anyway, some of the shirts they had there were hilarious. For example, totally obvious Hello Kitty knock-off shirts with the word, “PENCIL” above it. Really now? Or my favorite- one of those long shirts that women sometimes wear as skirts had a stylized French anime-type character with “COLBERT” written below it, with the words “SHE MARRIED HER BOSS” in smaller letters below that. I mean, seriously. What.
I bought Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate Mix the other day here. 6,500 tugs (~5 bucks). So worth it. Also random thought: my youngest duu has a serious obsession with slamming doors and stuff and it’s annoying. I can’t remember- all kids do that, right?
Kind of off track. So, black market. I ended up getting this really awesome orange with silver cloth for my deel (the traditional Mongolian outfit), and got it fitted at a seamstress a couple days ago. I’m geeked! In the past couple days I’ve kind of spent a lot of money, or at least in tugs. There are some sweet stores in Zuunmod that I would have never had known about it if it wasn’t for the CEDs (business sector) who went to those places as part of training. I bought some handmade leather boots (suitable for horseback riding!) and ordered a pair of hand-spun and made wool slippers for indoor use.
So the topic of conversation this week (ok, and every week to be honest) has been site placements (that and poop, but that has lessened as of late). We had our final site interviews, and it sounds like they’re looking at a hospital for me. There’s no sites in the west for healthies (aww no speaking Kazak for me), and there are soum (small village) and aimag center (larger towns) placements. Oh, and someone was told during their interview that we have no English-speaking counterparts (the term used for our main people we work with). That means my Mongolian is going to get pretty sweet me thinks.
In other news, we taught English yesterday to the nurse in our clinic. It was our second time, so we went over what she learned the last time, which started out a bit rocky, but she remembered after some reminding. We then went into some phases that we know in Mongolian as well (where are you from, what do you do, etc) so it was pretty easy for her to catch on. They’ve told us that we’re going to be doing a lot of that at site.
This week has been balls-to-the-wall hot outside. Holy crap. It’s been 34-38 C (93-100 F), which has been killing me. My suntan lotion seems to attract bugs to land and die on me. Yeah. Fun. Luckily the cement buildings are a kind of air conditioning, but not so much when your family has a whole skinned sheep on the table. That smell is, er, interesting. Even my father thought it smelled bad. The innards were separated into different buckets, which reminded me of my days at the fish lab. So nothing new. Should have took a picture, though, you know, to gross you all out some more.
Lastly, something I found creepy/hilarious: we get the UB Times (that is in English) weekly for one of our classes, and I like to read the horoscopes occasionally. Well, mine read for this week, and I QUOTE: “…This week also begins 26 months of slowness in work, employment, and health zones. …” For REAL? How did they know we have 26 months left of service (and I’m in the health sector??)?? I swear a PCV must have written this. It’s too funny and… awfully accurate.
I should have some more pictures up next week, so watch for those!