The Mongolian Goodbye
After four days of living in a high school dorm I was looking forward to the trip home on Friday. It seemed like a simple matter of packing a few bags and gathering the various teachers together to convince them to get into the van. I imagined that this might take an hour, maybe two. I did't imagine that getting ready for a six hour trip might take nine hours. Or that a twelve hour trip the next day might not start until well into the afternoon. That shortness of imagination comes from not being a Mongolian.
Much of the problem is my inability to understand the Mongolian language. It was only when I asked point blank that anyone would explain, in English, what was going to happen next, or even what was happening at the moment. Even then, there was still plenty of room for error. Why are the police stopping us here?
(I still don't know.) Is it really a good idea to give guns to prisoners so they can shoot dogs?
(Maybe they are not actually prisoners.) And on this morning, after an hour-long scenic hike to "the school" for a meeting, a phone call where I learned that Puje and Zaya were at a restaurant—and another call to finally learn that I had been to both the wrong school and then to the wrong restaurant. At ten o'clock I got back to "the school," the one I had left from earlier that morning, in time to wait while everyone packed. By eleven we were ready.
Between then and the time we left Uuliastai, in order: More...