Living in any place for the better part of a year will cause you to form an attachment to the land and people you are surrounded by, and Khovd, for us, has been no exception. The last few weeks have been spent trying to fix in our minds the people and places that have had such a strong effect on us. There is never enough time to get done what you'd like, or to see all the people you want to see. We will each miss several dozen colleagues and our fifty or so students. I will miss the ability to walk out the door and climb a mountain or look for petroglyphs or feed cows. I will also miss a kind of simplified life that will get increasingly complicated over the next few weeks. And I'll miss the fact that in Mongolia, something surprising is always about to happen.
Here are a few of those people and places. We are not leaving Mongolia yet, but we are leaving the place we've called home for much of the past year. It's a very incomplete sample of the people we'll miss. Among those who aren't shown are those in my department, who gave me a beautiful Mongolian coat, and many of my students, who I am afraid taught me much more than I taught them.
In the end, after several days of changing plans, we closed our bags, cleaned our apartment, and climbed into our neighbor's car with her family for a ride north to Ulaangom, in Uvs aimag, where her parents live. They would take care of us for our last few days in Western Mongolia.