Monday, December 27, 2010

Rudolph the M&M Nosed Reindeer


Lacking an oven, my options for making Christmas goodies was severely hindered.

But, since the quarantine has been over, my local shops have been stocked with new and exciting products (ORANGES! SLICED BREAD! CARROTS!). One day I found pretzels. So, I bought the shop out. 7 bags of pretzels, a bag of delicious M&M's (courtesy of the Palazzo's (package received and thoroughly enjoyed... watch the mailbox in the coming weeks)), and 9 bars of chocolate later... I made some reindeers for my students!

As close I could come to cookies... but my students (and I) will attest to the fact that they were deLISHious.

(I. Want. Snickerdoodles. Now.)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Nine Nines

According to Mongolians, winter lasts for 81 days. It starts on December 22nd and goes through 9 phases of 9 days each. I'm 5 days in... and freezing my tookus off.

First 9: It gets so cold that Mongolian Milk Vodka freezes.

Second 9: It gets to cold that Russian vodka freezes.

Third 9: It's so cold that the tail of a 3 year old ox freezes.

Fourth 9: The horns of a 4 year old ox freeze.

Fifth 9: It's starts to get warmer here... Now, boiled rice will no longer freeze.

Sixth 9: Roads become visible again (ha, what roads?)

Seventh 9: Hilltops become visible again.

Eighth 9: The ground becomes damp.

Ninth 9: It's warm again! (Probably finally breaches 10 degrees)

Note: The first 9 is where it becomes so cold that Sarah's eyelashes freeze together due to the condensation from her breath. Can't wait to see what freezes during the second 9.

Just Dancin' and Singin'

Last Saturday, the teachers and the students put on a fabulous dancing competition. I surely never tired of the endless awesome costumes and the adorable first grade cuties dancing around, but I tell ya... 8 hours is a loooong time for anything.

Votes on the best costumes?

The Judges... They look thrilled, no?

My counterpart's ADORABLE daughter.


A Sea of (Mongolian) Faces






Some of my fourth graders... aren't they precious







video
This is Dilguun's dance number... he's on the right in the front.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

To The Skirtzka.

So the other day we had a teacher's sport competition, a jolly good time. During volleyball, my team was starting to lose focus so we called a Time Out.

The team captain started goin off in rapid Mongolian while I stared at my shoes. I was thinking about the Frog.

Suddenly, he stopped talking and everyone looked at me.

I said, "Ribbit."

Pretty sure they think I'm crazy. Well, not too far from the truth I suppose.

We came back and won that game, FYI.

Some random photogs...

And that's not even the coldest it's gotten... and my ger is about 35 degrees in the morn. Lovely.
My neighbors staged this picture. They told me to show it to my family as proof that i can make a fire (a running joke amongst volunteers is the question, "Can you make a fire?" In a typical Mongolian interaction with anyone at anytime, revolves around three questions: "How are you? Are you cold? And can you make a fire?" Yes, for goodness sake, we can make a fire. If we couldn't we'd be dead.)

My neighbor Shinee, my other counterpart, Zolaa, and me in my Christmased out ger.

Sure is gettin crowded up there!


A Mongolian Rubix cube. A friend of mine gave me this for Christmas... I worked on it for 5 days straight and COULD NOT get it. Shinee had it in her hands for 3 minutes and solved it. Grrrrr.

Bawwww. Cutie Patootie.

The Road to Dariganga.
Thanksgiving Burritos! Yum!


The Thanksgivin' Bunch

Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon... In Winter!

So my bestie and I took a walk around town... in the freezing cold. Here's what Dariganga looks like these days...

Dilguun pretending to fall in the ice and scaring the living bejeesus outta me...

That is a lake in front of me. Froooozen.





Silly Boy

"I (don't) Got Worms!"

I'm sad to announce that Norman is no-more. When I returned from IST, he was simply gone. My neighbors told me that one night he disappeared.

Oh well. I didn't really want a dog.

But then I met Lloyd. Lloyd is a timid, shy, and ridiculously adorable puppy that kept getting beaten up by all the other doggies. So I rescued him and now I love him.

Meet Lloyd Christmas!

Lloyd is a big pansy. He's scared of the wind. As a result, negative reinforcement works wonders on him. In less than a week, I had him totally potty trained!

He's also a huge momma's boy (perhaps Norman Bates would have been more appropriate for him than the other Norman). He whines when I leave and gets wicked excited when I come home. He also likes to snuggle in my lap and snuggle in my sleeping bag when I sleep! He's so frickin adorable.

He also will spend HOURS chasing his tail. He's so stupid... it's very endearing. Lloyd suffers from what Douglas Adams refers to as a "Logical Loop." Lloyd's thought process is such:

"Oh! What is that?? I will bite it!"

and then...

"Ouch! Something bit me!"

and then...

"Oh! What is that?? I will bite it!"

and so on and so forth.

The loop is a result of 2 factors. 1) Lloyd has yet to figure out that these two thoughts are related and 2) Lloyd does not experience boredom, thus enabling him to do this for EVER.

Cutie.

I brought him with me to the aimag because I don't want to lose him. If you skype me, you can meet him in person!

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas from Mongolia!

I received a card from my school director that read, "At this special time of year, may the Hope and Joy in your heart be Renewed."

It touched me deeply. I miss so much during the holidays... hot chocolate, pumpkins, christmas songs, christmas trees, fires (that are not necessary for survival), 24 hours Christmas marathons, and watching Storm Chasers all day while building puzzles and ugly sweaters. And more than anything, spending time with family and friends.

I had a bit of a mental breakdown on the 24th... I wanted sooo bad to be in America with all of you guys. It was a rough day, but now I'm in the aimag celebrating Christmas the best we can (i.e. going to the karaoke bar and singing every Christmas song in the book).

I'm very happy to be in the presence of other Americans right now, but know that I'd give my right arm to spend just one quick day at home in America with all you.

Happy Holidays, all!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Home - where my thoughts escape me...

So, apologies for the horrendous blogging I have been doing lately. I should have been posting when I had the chance, but alas... the lure of the city (and it's vegetarian options, open air black markets, and a night-life that consisted of more than binge drinking vodka in your home) kept me busy every day... not to mention it was swarming with American Peace Corps volunteers, whom I clung to as though I wouldn't have contact with them for another 8 months. Oh wait...

It was sad to realize that the next time we would all be together again would be for MST - Mid Service Training - next August. Until then, I suppose I'll just have to deal with the motley bunch I was cast as sitemates here in the BU (just jokes, y'all... I could not have asked for better sitemates and that's the truth!).

Now, I am once again awaiting the phone call that will tell me I am leaving RIGHT NOW! and then I will head back to my popsicle of a ger where I imagine I will spend a few hours shivering miserably while everything thaws. I get to return to my Norman and my Dilguun and my students, which I am very excited for. I did miss my site a lot and really do consider it to be my home.

To be honest, when I left Dariganga a month ago, I was burnt out. Really needed that vacay. But IST and being with my friends again has totally revived me. When I get back to site my counterpart and I are starting a variety of clubs and activities and such, so at the very least I'll be occupied and perhaps a few will learn English in the process. :)

Also, I'm super excited to announce that the Minnesotan in me is bringing broomball to Dariganga. I'm not sure why I didn't think of this before but, everyone has brooms! Everyone has a ball! And we all have a giant frozen lake! It's going to be like GAC all over again... except outside. And probably a lot less English. But just as much booze, I'm sure.

Hokey - long boring post sans pictures because Smartypants McGee over here left her computer charger at the hostel, which means until I get that back... oh boy. I don't even want to think of the implications of being without my computer (no music... no movies... no games... eeeek!) Luckily, enough of you darling folk have sent me books. I'll probably burn through those over this next month.

Goodness I'm being long winded today. I'm done. I'm going back to Dariganga sometime today and I am going to try my hardest to be back here for Christmas. We shall seeeee.

Thanks for tunin in and I'll see ya when I see ya!

Sarah, TafKap, or Snag... depending on how you know me. mwah!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Don't Stop UB'in

Loneliness and boredom has taken it's toll on all of us here in Mongolia. It was real fun learning how everybody dealt with that... A dear good friend changed the lyrics of "Don't Stop Believin" to "Don't Stop UB'in." It is a gem of a song.

I just discovered that the cord connecting my external to my computer also works with my camera!

Nifty!

So, I'm still in UB. My counterpart and I just wrapped up a week long training seminar at a fancy resort in the hills with all the other TEFL volunteers. It was a raging good time to be with all my friends again.

Beautiful, yea?

A few days before the seminar, PC-Mongolia flooded the city to celebrate Thanksgiving... turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie (oh myyyy). The food was delicious, the company was great, but I assure you that all you back home were on my mind the entire day. Being separated from all y'all that I love dearly has made me more thankful than ever that I have such wonderful people in my life. The letters, the packages, even the short emails that I check 2 months late reminding me that I am missed mean so much to me. I am so thankful to have such a great support system back home.

I am especially thankful for family these days (and I'm not just mocking you Michelle... :) ). Mom and Dad, your packages and phone calls may be my saving grace here in Mongolia. You guys have done and continue to do so much for me, even if I am half a world away. I can't possible express how much it means to me. I love you guys very much.

Sappiness aside, I had a funny sort of moment here in Mongolia over Thanksgiving. I love hearing that you all read my blog and are taking such an invested interest in my travels. But get this... A fellow PCV approached me over Thanksgiving and informed me that his Mongolian counterpart is also following this blog. I am so flattered! I felt that the blog would be for introducing you all to Mongolian culture, but it excites me so much to know that it is working the other way, too. Best part, though... Tom's counterpart bought me a Christmas gift... a jar of peanut butter :)

So, a thank you so much, Batjargal! I hope you continue to enjoy my blog. I absolutely enjoyed that peanut butter!

I promised a photo blog. But i have yet to take pictures. Sorry. I suck. Today I will! (Ummm maybe:) )

I go back to the soum in 2 days, so skype me soon!

Another dear good friend changed the lyrics of Paul Simon's "America" to "Mongolia." So goodbye for now you fabulous people, I love and am truly thankful for you all. Now, "I'm gone to look for Mongolia."

kisses.

Quarantine Schmuarantine.

The quarantine has been lifted, huzzah!

Now on to new challenges, such as untravelable roads due to snow and the like.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This Post is Boring.

Salut!

I'm currently staying in a hostel overrun by French backpackers... I'm starting to get all these languages crossed.

So, I'm in UB... and it's magical. I bought soy milk. I can buy peppers and eggplant and popcorn and any type of bean I can think of (although I haven't seen garbanzo... I want me some hummus!), FRESH twix bars. There is REAL coffee, wireless internet, paved roads, restaurants with more than just huushuur on the menu, and alcohol selections that VARY. Oy. I'm so overwhelmed by the choices (I'm going to stand dumbfounded in the entry way to Jewel when come home).

Anyhow, this Thursday is Thanksgiving and Peace Corps is hosting a fantastic party, complete with turkey and pumpkin pie! I'm so so so pumped for it. Most PCV's claim it is the best meal they eat for 2 years.

Today, I am off to the Chinese Embassy to apply for a visa. I'm going to Hong Kong to visit with a dear friend and eat some yummy Chinese food in March. Real excited for that one. Also, I've been pickin up some awesome postcards and knick knacks so keep those eyes on your mailboxes! I am also about to head to a cozy little cafe to drink some delish coffee and pretend that I'm in a Starbucks in the States. I intend to take a bunch o pics today, so look out for a photo blog soon.

Well, that's what I'm up to now. Still rolling in the glory that is internet, so if you want to talk... I'm here!

Over and Out


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's Catching on...

Dad, do you have an illegitimate Mongolian son?

video

"I'm Thankful for Family!!"

To quote the always classy Michelle,

Oh, how I love being a Kappel. Sometimes Mongolians will mistake us Americans for Russians. Not in this shirt.

Represent.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Yanaa**

**Fiddlesticks.

I spent alot of time working on those google maps and it cut off half my picture. Click "View Larger Map" to see what I'm actually talking about.

**Phooey.

**Gosh Darn It to Heck.



Google Maps is da Best.


View Larger Map

So, this is Dariganga! Here we see Altan Ovoo, the sacred mountain (which is actually a volcano, turns out) I keep tellin y'all about. The big lake is Song Lake, named after it's guitar shape. That's where I went to take all the swan photos. The long river-y thing starts on the left with a natural spring and feeds into Song Lake. Those speckles to the left of the mountain is my town! My ger is the third speckle from the front.


This is the BU. That yellow line apparently suggests a road between my soum and the aimag, but I assure you there is no such thing. Also, the ride is just as exciting as it looks on this map (to anyone who has had the thrill of driving through Iowa... V - you know what I mean.)


The BU to UB. Again, the yellow line is deceptive. 2/3rds of this trip through the country on dirt roads. It's 12 hours, if you were wondering.


Mongorrrria. It's huge.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Little o' this, little o' that....

Some random photogs for you darlings back home.

The girl on the left is Anhaa, the other English teacher. She asked me to do a family portrait for them. So they get all decked out and gussied up and invite me into the photo, unshowered and in a t-shirt. Lovely. ...One of these things is not like the others...

My English Board. Guess which part I was in charge of.

Banner in my classroom. They are so proud of it... I haven't had to heart to tell them it isn't exactly correct...

Excerpt from an English textbook.

This is my school!

My counterpart's B-Day present to me - a Mongolian Magic 8-Ball. Those are the anklebones of sheep. Each side has its own corresponding animal. Here I show you all four animals... a horse, a camel, a goat, and sheep. You ask the bones a question and then roll them onto the mat. Then, figure out what you rolled and look up your answer on the sheet. The English is terrible so it's a pretty funny game.