Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tales from the Countryside

Hello Boils and Ghouls!

(Ten points to anyone who gets the reference)

I realize I do an awful lot of photoblogging, so I thought this time I would paint you all some word pictures about some of the crazy, gross, scary, and hilarious stories that I have from living in this country so far.

Let's start with this summer.

Carpe Diem

One morning, my sister woke me up to help her herd the cows to the water. It was all fine and dandy, but one stubborn little guy went trotting off in the wrong direction. So, we left the other cows a-drinkin, and went to round up the rogue fellow. When we reached him, he planted his feet firmly in the ground and refused to move.

We huffed. And we puffed. And we yelled. And we pushed. But he would not move. So finally, my sister suggests that she push from behind while I pull from the front. She got down into a linebacker position behind the cow, while I... well, I grabbed the bull by the horns.

We were successful, by the way. With the satisfaction of successfully herding cows for the first time, I can now say that I have literally grabbed a bull by the horns.

I'd rather try Windex

One day, I was tossing a disc with lil Dilguun (who has been acting very strange lately... I think he's jealous of Lloyd...), when the hot sand just beckoned for me to take my shoes off. I complied and almost immediately regretted it because I sliced opened my foot on... well... something ( I forgot... not important).

I sat down to better inspect my bleeding foot and was clearing not paying attention to Dilguun. I am going to take a brief pause in this story to remind all you folks back home that medicinal practices vary across the world. Cold water, while refreshing in the states, is believed to cause sore throats here. And the urine of small boys is used as a common cure-all here in Mongolia.

I'll let you guess where this story winds up.

My foot healed just fine, in case you were wondering.

Road Block

At nights, the temperature drops to as low as -40. I get to snuggle with my puppy underneath two fleece blankets, a winter sleeping bag, and two comforters, so I survive the night just fine.

Animals (besides Lloyd, that is), do not fare so well. It is rather common to see frozen animals littering the streets (sadly, common enough for PCVs to invent a word to describe the creature: pupsicle)

One night, a wandering cow dropped dead in front of the school and blocked the main entry way. Hours later, when I was walking to work, the dead animal had attracted a motley crew of evil rabbid dogs that were joyfully enjoying the free meal.

As I got closer to door, the only thought that fluttered through my mind was, "Dammit. Now I have to go around the school."

Hours later, I realized that my reaction should have been more along the lines of "Holy Shit! There are 15 demonic dogs devouring a freshly dead cow RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE SCHOOL!!"

But that's just another day in Mongolia.

My Neighbor, with the Shovel, in my Haasha

I may have mentioned it 2,340,973,452,345.3 before in my blog, but dogs are not liked here. most people think I've taken one too many ger-door frame hits to the head (ger doors are about 4 feet high) because I pet Lloyd (not to mention let him sleep with me and lick my hands). Awww, Lloyd... :)

Anyway. Last month, my haasha dog, whose name is Dick and happens to be female (I've tried to figure out the origin of the name, but I got nothing), was in heat. As a result, every male dog in the soum camped in my haasha waiting to have his way with her.

For a while, it was simply inconvenient to have to yell at a million vile dogs to get out of my way and to listen to all of them get in vicious dog fights over who go to "lay" with Dick (and then listen to them "lay" with Dick) but it soon became a legitimate issue. As time went on, the male dogs got more and more aggressive and less and less afraid of me.

To make the situation worse, Dick's little doggie cage is right next to my argal (cow dung) pile. In order for me to collect the fuel for the fire, I had to fight off 18 maniacally aggressive beasts, usually by screaming, throwing things, and hitting them with sticks.

One day, that backfired. A particularly satanic dog lay on my argal pile, keeping a close eye on his female prize. As I approached, he became tense. I yelled at him. He showed me his teeth (! W..w..w..what big teeth you have!). I threw a rock at him. He showed me some more of his teeth (as sharp and gnarly as the rest, turns out). I grabbed a stick and bopped him on the head with it. He lunged at me, teeth bared, spit flying, and barking angrily, because I was clearly a threat.

As you would hope in life threatening situations, my body reacted without me telling it what to do. Unfortunately, that reaction was crumble to the ground to make it easier for the dog to eat me alive.

I managed to recover before the dog had another chance at my jugular and went crying to my neighbor's house. He either DESPISED dogs, was ultra pissed that this dog attacked me, or was simply following standard Mongolian protocal, but he grabbed a shovel and marched straight to my haasha.

Before the dog had time to react, Bagay wound up and swung. The sound of a shovel cracking against skull is something I hope to never hear again.

Needless to say, the shovel was effective. The dog ran whimpering away and I gathered my argal like nothing had happened.

Then next day after school, I returned to my neighbor's house and asked politely if he wouldn't mind helping me remove a dead dog with a crushed skull from my cow dung pile.

Jesus Who?

After lesson planning one day, my two counterparts and I were chatting away about the upcoming Teacher's Sport Competition (part 2 of 7). Anhaa asks,

"Sarah, do you know Arabic?"

Arabic? Now why on Earth would I know Arabic? I tell her so, and she says,

"We have an Arabic competition on Saturday."

Eh? Mongolians know Arabic? After 10 minutes of miscommunication, I finally realize she means aerobic. We laugh at the misunderstanding and my other counterpart asks,

'Well, what is Arabic, then?"

I tell them it's a language. You know. Like English or Mongolian. Arabic. They speak Arabic in Egypt. Jesus spoke Arabic (let's just ignore the fact that I meant Aramaic).


You know... Jesus. Jesus Christ.

Blank stares.


"Who is Jesus?"

How's that for isolation?

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