Beyond Accustomed

Today is Sunday. The day of relaxation, and also the time to finish up weekend chores. Yesterday I chopped wood and coal for two hours to stock up my supplies for the upcoming week. Today is reserved for sleeping in late, buying water and cleaning my ger, body and hair.

To get water I must first empty out my two containers by filling up my dry sink basin and water boiler to their limits. Then I scrounge up sixty tugriks (the equivalent of thirty cents) and put it into the front left pocket of my plaid work-coat. The water wheelbarrow sits in front of my family’s house so I walk along my khashaa path, take a hold of the frozen handle and drag it towards my ger. I set the handle down, grab my two containers, and place them strategically onto the wheelbarrow. The 40 liter metal one must sit in the back, allowing the yellow 20 liter plastic container upfront so that when full the wheelbarrow does not tip over. Continue reading

Oh, Gossip.

People talk about me all the time. This statement may come off as horrendously egocentric. But, it’s also true. As one of two white people in the land of asians, I sorta get noticed a lot. It’s not my fault- light just tends to bounce of my skin a little more than the others living here. Anyhow, I don’t understand the majority of what people say about me. But sometimes I catch on. What’s understood is more often than not the usual- “Why does that foreigner walk so darn fast?” and “That white person actually speaks Mongolian!?” or my personal favorite: “That foreigner is so pretty with her huge nose!”.

But once and a while a really good one comes along. Continue reading

A Realization

It’s 12:30 at night. As I rise from an over-sized chair in preparation to brush my teeth, I notice that my bad water bucket is nearly full. I groan, foreseeing the quick yet chilly trip outside to empty it.

I pull on my mom’s thick old grey ski socks and shove my feet into my fur-lined hiking boots. Grabbing the blue bucket from underneath the dry sink, I unlock the two deadbolts, shove my door open and trudge outside. While I quickly cover the white ground towards the fence, my khasaa dog barks twice at a phantom burglar, then snuggles back into her self-made hole. My shoes plunge into the hardened snow creating a crunch that echoes throughout the surrounding yards. I splash the contents of the bucket onto the white snow, spin around, and walk briskly towards my ger.

As I take my last leap over the snow, a realization hits me. This is that time in my life; that epic period that I will recount to my children and grandchildren. How in the middle of a snow covered world, I made a life. I am in a village, in the middle of Mongolia, heading towards my ger. I am experiencing something that can never be replicated.

These everyday tasks usually feel normal. But right now I have been gifted for the briefest moment with the realization of just how exceptional my life is.

Just Another Night in Mongolia

It’s 10:30 at night, and I’m talking with another Peace Corps volunteer over the phone updating her on my day. I tell her how yet another teacher is pregnant (surprise!), and that I got roped into participating in a Mongolian dance for this year’s teachers’ concert. My phone beeps twice, signaling that another incoming call awaits my attention. I see it’s my host father and tell my friend I’ll talk to her later, pushing the green button twice.

Host father: “Ariel, my home.”

Me: “Odooiimo?” (Should I come now?)

Host father: “Odoo.” (Yes, now.)

Me: “Za…” (Okay…) Continue reading

You know you’re a PCV in Mongolia when…

  1. Your calls with friends are usually 20, 40 or 60 minutes long.
  2. You casually mention peeing in a bucket, and not a single person bats an eye.
  3. You start longing for a neon cashmere jumpsuit.
  4. You think your alcohol tolerance is pretty low, but in reality the beers are just twice as big.
  5. You are slightly worried about the multiple cavities that are quite likely taking root in your mouth, but continue to eat all the candy anyways, partially out of politeness but mostly out of an intense addiction to sugar.