Life in Mongolia is all about the unexpected. Especially the housing . Contracts aren’t exactly as legally binding as they are in the States, mostly because of the nomadic tendency of modern Mongolian life. Rent is paid in three month increments because it is normal for people to up and leave very suddenly. Most apartments that are rented out, come fully furnished, because who wants to move large amounts of furniture around Mongolia ? Unfortunately, this very normal aspect of Mongolian life was thrust upon me this summer, and now I’m in completely new digs. All is well and I’m settled in to my new surroundings, but it was quite a story.
Over the summer, after saying goodbye to my family, I had a couple days to relax in UB before heading back to site. While I was relaxing at my favorite hostel, I received a call from my schools training manager, Odon, telling me that ” Чиний гэр байхгүй ” or translated quite literally as “Your home does not exist”. I was imagining that someone took a wrecking ball to my apartment building . After talking with my regional coordinator it turns out that the land lord wants to renovate the apartment, and that I have to move out. To make a long story short, I went back to Zavkhan to start moving stuff out of my apartment, into my school, while organizing a small day camp and while hosting people. It was a long couple of weeks, kinda making me glad that I had to peace out of Zavkhan for the second half of summer. Nothing is as much like hitting the reset button then getting out of town.
Luckily before I left, I got to see my new apartment. Apartment 2.0 is situated 10 minutes from my school and includes a kitchen with a wood burning stove and heat retaining wall, a “bathroom” , and two rooms. It all looked fine and dandy, however, the previous tenant was still in the process of moving out by the time I left site, so I couldn’t move my stuff. By the time I got back, I was sure that I would get off the plane and then have to move all the boxes of stuff that had accumulated at my school, over to the new apartment, then have to start school the next day. It was the greatest surprise ever when I arrived in town and all my stuff had been moved, I just needed to unpack it. Which in itself, a little over whelming. Because it wasn’t just my stuff… but also what previous PCVs that had left behind, including books ( a small library), all of the spices ( Who needs all of this turmeric, cinnamon and red pepper flakes…) and two washing machines, just to name a few.
All in all, after a summer of traveling its nice to finally be settled for the last half of my service
With a new apartment comes all of the quirks that come with it. My last apartment had me crossing wires my first couple days to get electricity going, so Apartment 2.0’s electrical system is so far an upgrade. What has proved to be an interesting challenge is my bathroom pictured below…
So Apartment 2.0 only has running water to the toilet, and after much deliberations with the plumber that my school sent over, there would be no way to get water to the sink. So I must be the only PCV in all of Mongolia that actually uses solar showers, an item recommended on our packing list, but no one ever uses. Luckily, I have two, both left by now departed sitemates. So I enjoy my combination solar showere bucket bath that happens a couple times a week. However, currently there is no light source in the room so using the bathroom to actually bathe is a little awkward, so I have started going to the “Hot Water House” which is a couple streets over. That is basically a shower house where you can rent a shower stall for about 2000 tugricks for 30 minutes… or a dollar and 11 cents. I like to think I deserve a shower every so often. If I’m really struggling for a blog post later, I can talk about that whole process.
Oh and you see the thing the toilet paper is on? That’s my washing machine. Most washing machines you find here are portable and don’t attach to plumbing, you just need to manually fill it up with water and drain the water into a bucket or an actual drain. If its warm enough, its common to see people take it outside and just do their laundry in their yards. Little tidbit of my life here, though I will admit, I think I might cry when I see a legit washing machine that attaches to plumbing 🙂
Other then that I spend most of my time in my designated living room/bedroom. The little desk is for reading and general computer work. I even have tiny chairs to fit. The bed is something ‘new’ but I do love it, its like sleeping on a hammock and now that I have blankets ( I used to sleep in my sleeping bag) I sleep sooooo well. And I can’t ignore my most precious asset, my electric heater. It saves my life, and keeps my feet warm while I wait for the building radiators to turn on next month.
That’s a little glimpse of my apartment, though I will talk about my kitchen at a later date. I might even include a little recipe. Also I’m currently the only person at my site that is in an apartment. All my other sitemates are in a traditional Mongolian gers. One day I will write about their experiences, but in the meantime, I will enjoy my cushy apartment.
I do have to admit, I do miss my old place. I had gotten comfortable there, and within a Peace Corps service you try to find those things that make you feel comfortable. On another level, I had also made some good memories there. I do know though, that new memories will be made and being in a new part of town, with new neighbors will allow me to have a little different second year of service, and for that, I am grateful. I walk by my old apartment quite often, and one day might knock on the door. I want to see what that whole renovation was about 😛