This was written during my schools weekly teachers meeting. Basically all 40 of my teachers meet at 6:00 on Mondays and stuff is talked about, mostly about what’s happening that particular week. At this point I understand about 25% of whats going on, but most of it tends to be spoken in rapid fire Mongolian ( is there really any other kind). SO what else is there to do but write streams of consciousness to myself…
During our teachers meetings once a week, we are stuffed into a classroom while administrators let us know about the coming days. One thing that I get from these meetings is if I was a kid in any of these classrooms I would always be looking outside. Heck, I’m looking outside now. There a construction site next door where the workers se up white gers with orange and blue doors. The gers are pushed up against tall wood walls, wood piles and Soviet pickup trucks. Kids pulling back on dogs when visitors enter the yard, just toddlers covering the eyes of an animal 10 times their size, tiny hands close to bared teeth. Just beyond the yard is the vast river plain that surrounds my town , reaching the bases of granite peaks. I can see yaks , sheep and goats grazing, cowboys with long lassos to round up their horses. I can see emptied nests tucked into bare bone trees. Autumn is gone. Winter is here.
As the meeting drones on , the tiny panes of glass at the top of a ger starts glowing and smoke floats off the chimney. That smoky glows is the only sign of life in a dwelling that has no windows. It’s a snow globe image in a world that is getting darker ever so quickly.
The expanse I see is a contrast with the cramp of the room I am in. I observed a long time ago that most Mongolian chairs don’t have leg space. Or butt space for that matter. At the beginning of every meeting I go to , I force my legs under teal desks to find they can’t move, cramped between the other of tables and people. I have since learned that I need to sit with my legs at an angle – sticking out into the aisle, perched on the sides of benches that serve as chairs. To think that kids sit here all day, without a substantial break to get out and about. That must stink. Yet Mongolians have a penchant for being uncomfortable. 30 hour bus rides have proved this to me.
… I only have to listen to my school administrators rhapsodically go on for another hour. At least I hope its another hour. Anyways…
I often look at videos of PCVs in other countries. Which is a mistake I know. Most of them involve tropical climes, volunteers swimming through water falls, eating awesome food with exotic veggies and general idyllic surroundings. Of course I’m saying that surrounded by negative 0 temperatures and snow. Anything will look good from that view point. I try to keep in mind that those volunteers probably have to deal with malaria ridden mosquitoes, venomous snakes, and a whole host of tropical diseases. Still, they all look so tan! How salubrious they must feel !
At first glance the volunteer life in Mongolia doesn’t have that. The water is too cold to swim in. The local meat (which is really the only local food… besides all the dairy) is tough but with some ambitious marinating can be edible. Its cold dammit! But I would be lying if there weren’t those moments of salubrity. Because this is a starkly beautiful country. There are days like today, the first snow of winter that sticks. Everything is white, clean and sparkly. It’s a little bit of a renewal before the days get too short to even think about it.
As much as the first snow of the season is invigorating , its also wearying as well. Yes I know I can do this now, but goodness I have to do this again? The romanticism that was there before… isn’t really there anymore. But I do have the benefit that this year will go ( and already is , going so much quicker then last year. Also I have decided that I’m going to ‘cheat’ this year, and go visit my family in Thailand this January. I’m expecting my batteries will be recharged to 100% by that point, ready to take on the last ten-ish months left of service.
Yeah! Teachers meeting is over! Bayartai!
Till something else exciting happens , V.