Archive for July, 2010

Are you summering well?

Mongolians greet each other this way in the summer months: “Are you summering well?” My answer is yes but, for me, the days are passing too quickly and things are heating up—literally and figuratively.  I’ll be heading back to America in September.  Tracy is coming over to spend a little time here (I’m hoping we can go on a horse trek together) and then we’ll go to Brooklyn together.  I’ll spend some time with the family and then reach Marblehead around mid-September.

Clayton made a return trip this summer.  He, Jenn, and my granddaughters, Ella and Mia, arrived on June 27 and spent a week in Mongolia.  We visited Lake Khovsgul for a few days, went on a day’s horse trek up along the lake and over a mountain, and then went to a friend’s ger camp high on a bluff above the Delgermuron River.  A truly spectacular view over a broad valley with mountains across the valley and behind us as well and herds of yaks, horses, cows, goats, sheep and even camels munching their way back and forth across the broad plain below.  We went on another horse trek there one morning, up a valley to see a vulture’s nest high up in the rocks.  The vultures here are about the size of sheep!  Fortunately, the vulture we saw on the nest didn’t view us as prey.

In each place, the girls got to play with some Mongolian children.  In Muron, the family attended our weekly English Conversation Corner.  And the next day, the family visited and the girls participated in an English language class for children taught by one of our Peace Corps Volunteers.  At both of the ger camps we stayed at there were some Mongolian children about the girls’ ages and they had fun playing together—language was no barrier!

A friend of mine from Muron who wrestled at Hatgol's Naadam

Clayton and family went on to Korea and spent a few days there before heading for home.  And the following weekend, I went up to the lake (for the 8th time!) to see their Naadam celebrations.  Khovsgol’s Naadam this year will come at the end of July and it is a special one—celebrating the 300th birthday of Chingunjav, one of Mongolia’s heroes from this area.  They have just put up a new statue of him in the public square beside the building where my office is located.  If you’re interested in reading more about him, I discovered a website with quite a bit of information about him and Mongolia: http://www.chriskaplonski.com.   If you click on the following:  ‘Collective memory and Chingunjav’s rebellion’ History and Anthropology 6(2-3):235-259, you’ll get a PDF with perhaps a lot more info than you wanted—but it’s actually a good look at how heroes happen from a broader perspective.

Our Naadam celebration will draw people from all over Mongolia this year and so the whole town is being spruced up.  I have offered again to help buy some more trash bins to use around the Naadam stadium.  And will also supply trash bags for the many little stalls selling khoshuur during this 3-day event.  Muron’s mayor has asked me to go on TV and urge people to throw litter in the bins—but I think I will get some children to do the urging.

And finally, I think our gift shop that will sell local handmade crafts will be ready in time for Naadam.  I have hoped for this for the past two years and now I think it will happen.   I am working to make sure this gift shop at Muron’s major hotel will continue to operate after I leave and I am pretty optimistic about it.

There are a few other things I hope to wrap up before I leave.  And these keep me busy.  But still, as I walk to work, admiring our big blue sky, the infinite variety of clouds, and the friendly people,  I know I will miss this country.  It’s not easy to say goodbye and, in fact, I have always had a policy of not saying goodbye to people I might not see for awhile.  I just say, “See you later.”  I’ll be saying the same to my friends here and to this culture and this country.   I expect to be back.

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July 18, 2010 at 2:06 pm Leave a comment


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