These past few weeks have been jam packed with some awesome happenings. Last weekend I went to the countryside with my family (the countryside is called the “houdo” in Mongolian, and it kind of sounds like it makes for a phrase similar to saying “ghetto”… “I’m going to the houdo this weekend,” or “My brother is in the houdo”.) I of course got super sick from the car ride, which sucked because I didn’t have my drugs with me. There are not a lot of paved roads in Mongolia… there’s the one that connects Zuunmod and UB, a handful going to other places, but the paved roads are as smooth as the dirt road leading up to my house in Michigan. I’ve never experienced real “off-roading” until I came to Mongolia. Basically, you drive around the mountains and through the steppes, following the dead grass that was left from the previous car.
Anyway, I digress. We first went to a Buddhist holy spot that had an Ovoo, of which you throw a rock on top and circle around it three times. We then walked a short distance to a huge rock, where my mom gave me a 10 tugrik bill and started scraping off pieces of the large rock onto the bill. After getting some pieces, she folded up the bill and told me to put it in my wallet. Apparently this gives you good luck with money and will make you rich. But, uh, I don’t think that’s going to happen to me because this past weekend, Cody, in all his wisdom, when the folded up bill fell on the floor after I pulled out some other bills, he unfolded it, the rocks falling on the ground. Sad day. Justin said he would have done the same, so I can’t be mad. I managed to salvage a little bit at least!
After the scraping of the rock, we traveled for another hour or so to a larger spot, where I noticed there were signs for “Eej Had” (Mother Rock). I posted pictures on facebook, but I have to get some on here for the non-users. But basically, it is a large rock formation that looks just like a person, along with a face. They had built an open- circular house (maybe ger-like?), and dressed the mother in a deel. There was a large table in front of the mother, where people placed boov (cookies) and lots of candies. In the back was a place where people put noogon tsae (green tea) and lit candles. After a while, my host mom gave me some rice to throw on the walls, inside and out. People also threw milk on the walls as well.
The most interesting part was that there was a men’s side and a woman’s side to the mother rock. People lined up accordingly and took turns whispering to the mother about their wishes, hopes, and dreams. Of course, I took a turn, but I’m not telling what I wanted. :) My littlest duu took a turn too, and he was hilarious, because when my mom held him up to the mother, he kind of just “whispered” a bunch of nonsense, because he’s two. Actually, he’ll be two on Friday, so that means vodka time!
So yeah, that was my last weekend. This past weekend was spent working on our tooth-brushing clinic for 15 children, which went as well as it could have, considering. The children actually seemed like they enjoyed themselves, and we even got a little show at the end where our doctor had some of them sing and say poems for us. So cute!
I’m everywhere with the topics, sorry. So much to write!
Anyway! Also this past weekend we had the host family appreciation day! A bunch of us met at the school early in the morning to start working on food for the families. We made pizza, onion rings, fried apple pies, pasta salad, jello shots, fresh lemonade, and brownies! Ashley made the brownies, but they were such a big hit that I didn’t get to have any. But maybe next time! So yeah, the event went off without any big problems. While cooking, we kind of had to battle the space with a group of Koreans who were there doing volunteer work for the week. We also had to battle a giant pooh-bear. Just kidding, but there really was a pooh-bear- Korean dude in a costume. Yeah.
After finishing the food and cleaning the kitchen, the rest of us went to sit with our families and enjoy the awesome food. That was a little short lived, however, as we were all called up to perform our Mongolian songs that we knew. The Mongolian people LOVE when you know their songs. The families were clapping along and singing with us too. After our songs, Oogii said we should sing an American song, so we chose “Hey Jude” (not exactly American, but close enough!). And, I uh, ended up singing pretty much solo on that one in front of 30 or so Mongolians. And I didn’t even have any alcohol! Hah :)
After the singing, there is always dancing at Mongolian parties. We did the Mongolian waltz and a kind of line-dance-ish thing that we were taught. I got to dance with my host mom, which was uber awesome, but I’m crap at those dances… note to work on that!
A little hilarious (kind of) note… yesterday my littlest duu tried to totally cop a feel. Like not just cop a feel, like put his hand down my shirt! Apparently little kids do that… my host mom laughed and said in Mongolian, “he likes boobs” (and yes, there is a slang term for breasts… “hoch”, which is also the color dark blue). He’s still the cutest little thing on two legs so I’ll let it slide! Hah :)
So that brings us to this week. Thursday is our language test and technical interview. Bleh. Not excited, and I’m getting a little nervous. It’s actually not a huge deal if you don’t pass, because they give you more money for a tutor and you take the test again in December when everybody comes back together in UB. I’ve heard that we’re doing better than last year’s group, but I have no idea how I’ll do. Meh. Reminds me hardcore of Japanese oral exams, and especially Melanie knows how much I hated those!
Speaking of Melanie, I totally got your letter today! It really made my day! Melissa’s told me that she’s sent a letter as well, so it really makes me happy that my bestest friends have sent me these heartwarming letters :) OH and I got Ellen’s last and 11th postcard from Nova Scotia! Someone needs to send me sticky tack for walls so I can put all the notes up in my ger/apartment!
This Sunday we find out where we’re going. Ooooh boy. I’ll try to update ASAP when I find out, but with 70+ people wanting the internet, it might have to wait until I get to UB next week. I’m so freaking excited! And then the planning of trips begins :) And I’ll be sure to update my address as well and send lots of letters to the US of A! Peace and love my peoples!