Happy New Year! May this find all of you readers happy and warm, nursing some wicked hangovers and good memories. Its hard to believe, but I have spent , an entire year here. I am long past the half way mark, and I’m closer to leaving then I have ever been. Seven months and I will be… somewhere else.
While I’m approaching those crossroads, its apparent that I still have work to do here and there is still fun to be had. Peace Corps this year found turkeys from Selenge (the province I trained in) and through lucky circumstance, a aimag-mate was able to bring us a turkey after taking the GRE in UB. For a turkey it was on the smaller size, maybe 8 pounds, but that’s good, because all we have here are glorified toaster ovens. While we couldn’t cook anything on actually Christmas time, we went over to sitemates ger to have that holiday feast we have always dreamed up. I downloaded plenty of instructional videos and ‘How to cook Turkey for dummies” to prepare for the feast. With the exception of a pre-prepared turkey I got from Raleys the winter of ’08, this was the first turkey I would have to prepare from scratch. Luckily my sitemates and I were up for the challenge.
We seasoned and stuffed the insides over the dry sink, tied up the legs with impromptu kitchen string and seasoned the bird, but not too much (cause apparently that’s a thing) . The bird propped up on a baking pan pretty ideally, and we loosely wrapped it with foil for browned perfection ( so we were promised) , and popped it in the oven at around 1:00, and so we waited for the allotted 3 hours.
While we waited we chatted over Christmas music, watched some movies , real classics such as the Santa Clause and the CGI version of the Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey… while preparing our side dishes. I made some mashed potatoes, Christie made some awesome roasted veggies and risotto. Melinda made an awesome brownie mix for dessert. Nic made some awesome chai tea. With so many people, and a fire being used for cooking over the stove , the ger got hot. Like sauna hot. We even opened to door to -8 degree air to turn the air conditioning on. Overall it was a chill time. We even had mimosas! It was fantastic, and I’m sure I’m now I have ingested my vitamin C for the month.
Everything turned out great for the winter feast. The turkey was moist, the veggies were fresh and we had enough adult beverages to go around. Despite the difficulties of cooking in a ger, basically a round tent, I would like to say we didn’t make too much of a mess. We even concluded with a Secret Santa, which as something new. The best gift was probably from a soumer, he actually whittled and painted someone’s name out of a piece of firewood. Something tells me he has a lot of time on his hands.
This week is will be the start several days off. Monday there was no school, because it was Mongolian Independence Day ( the ‘first attack against the Manchu oppressors ‘ is how its explained to me. Of course the Mongolians would do a major military action at the start of winter), there won’t be school New Years Day, as that is a national holiday, and I’m uncertain whether there will be any school on Friday. I have heard mixed things. I will probably find out when I go to school and find that no one is there. No harm done.
In terms of New Years, it came and went quietly this year. I came down with a little cold that made me stay in. Not that New Years in Mongolia is a big deal outside of the family. Most people just hang out with friends and family, eat some food and watch TV. But as much I didn’t really do anything to herald in the new year, the alone time did make me pause to reflect. More so then last year. Las year I new I was going to still be in my mountain town in a year, doing some of the same old same old. Such was 2014.
2015 is going to be a different animal. In seven months I will COS, and who knows where I will go and where I will be in a year. The whole idea is tremendously exciting, and a little scary. I love the idea of being able to travel and see new places. One thing I have found to be unexpectedly difficult about my Peace Corps Service, is that being in such a remote town, travel has been difficult. I had no idea how much I would miss being able to get into a car and do weekend trips. Ironically , not something I used to do a lot in the states, but now you can bet I will. The idea of being able to hop on a train, plane or even walk through different places… tramping through Europe, or even the States, I get excited thinking about it. I’m excited to see old friends, got to concerts and fun parties with said friends, and explore a little bit more of my home, that I hadn’t thought of exploring before. Of course, within 2015 I will have to face the job market. That part makes this upcoming year scary. I’m trying not to be scared though, but rather approach it as a new challenge. Of course, that’s something I can muse on later, when I actually start sending in resumes. A world away from now.
Of course the next couple months are going to be a good start to the year. In about 12 days and 5 something hours, I will get to have a bit of a vacation in Thailand. I’m excited to get doped up on Vitamin D, and to finally see my family in one place. In the mean time, to make this year more interesting, I’m joining those hordes that start various New Year Challenges, mostly to get me through the slower months of 2015. I’m sure I will talk about them here so here is a little bit of an intro.
I am doing the 365 challenge with some other volunteers in country. The premise is that everyday you take a picture. While there are theme topics you can follow, I’m just taking it as a guideline, and will probably just post a photo from a day that I feel that is publishable. So If I post some random pictures in the future that’s what they are for.
I’m also going to be doing a reading challenge. 52 books, one book a week, each week will have a theme. I’m actually really excited about this, though I doubt I will complete each theme, it will be interesting to attempt. The themes for this month include :
- Week 1: a book with more than 500 pages ( Crime and Punishment, fits this category. )
- Week 2: a romance ( this isn’t a genre I tend to read much of. Does anyone have any suggestions ?)
- Week 3: a book that became a movie
- Week 4: a book published this year
If anyone has any suggestions for the above I would love to hear them.
2015 is bound to be a great year, mostly because I’m going to be seeing friends and family that I haven’t seen in years. And I’m so ready for that. In the meantime, I will enjoy the rest of my time in Mongolia, drink it all in and prepare for the year ahead.