My Paper Journal

I’ve been waiting to write in this journal from Taylor until I really felt like it was the right moment and I think this is it. I am in my room with my host family who will be looking after me for the next three months. I was greeted yesterday afternoon by my host mom (or “ech” the Mongolian word for mom) who took me and all my luggage to our home. When we arrived we had tons of food, from cookies and Sprite to bread and “boats” which are chopped pieces of meat covered in a boiled flour casing. I wasn’t really hungry, which I think I accidentally conveyed as feeling sick, but I really enjoyed all of it very much. During the meal and afterward I talked with my host mom and her sister or “iktsch” for a couple of hours. This consisted in large part of us all going back and forth between dictionaries, family photos and sign language but I think I quadrupled my vocabulary in Mongolian, “Mongol hil.” After unpacking my things and making myself a little nest, I plugged in the $350 water distiller that Peace Corps gave us and laid down for a little rest. That lasted until morning.

When I got up, I felt great. I was able to meet my host family’s son “hoo” and drink some milk tea as we introduced ourselves. He is 18 and a carpenter who works in and out of the city where he goes to college. His sister is in the 7th grade and she is out in the countryside with her aunt for the summer, but she will be back for the summer celebrations that start at the beginning of July. My host father is a watchman, “jujur” though I’m not sure where, so he works at night and I have yet to see him. My mom and I planted potatoes in the morning, rested in the afternoon, visited Erica (a fellow Volunteer) and her family in the evening and then played a couple traditional Mongolian games with “ankle-bones,” one that was like marbles, another like a horse race, and another like jacks. They were a lot of fun and my mom beat me mercilessly. The “ankle-bones” that you play with are also definitely real bones, which is pretty crazy. Today was also the first day I used the outhouse and I laughed when I realized that the holes in the outhouse that everyone has been talking about aren’t in a bench or on a seat, they are in the floor. My Boy Scout training of how to crap in the woods was priceless.