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“This dusty old dust is a’ gettin’ my home”

June 25, 2010

I’ve been listening to Woody Guthrie and his Dust Bowl Ballads this afternoon because the wind is howling outside my home today. It was a swealtering 105 degrees at noon and the weather has really moved in now to cool everything off. Gigantic thunderclouds are gathering to the south, sending spectacular lightning all the way to the ground. Powerful, straightline winds are whipping up the dry dust around here too, either sending it swirling in an updraft like a big dusty tornado, or hurrying across the roads and plains in big thick clouds.

We had our usual Mongolian language lesson. The language (at least for me) is still coming sort of slowly. I feel pretty comfortable with the Cyrillic alphabet at this point, but my ability to understand the conversation over the dinner table is still woefully inadequate.

I had my first hot shower in almost a month this afternoon. Don’t worry, I HAVE been bathing…just in a tumpun (big plastic tub), but the luxury of a hot shower was definitely welcome. It costs a whopping 1500 tugriks (roughly $1.10) for about 5-10 minutes of hot water–worth every penny.

I finished East of Eden last night and I can’t even begin to describe my pleasure with that book, especially here. Something about the Salinas Valley in 1900 and Mongolia feel delightfully similar. I highly recommend it to those of you that haven’t read it yet. I think I’ll be processing this one for a while, and it’s a book I plan to revisit. I’m now starting Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford. Topical, eh? I’ll try let you know all the good tidbits of Mongol history as I learn them.

For instance, did you know that the Mongols went to unbelievable lengths to keep the grave of Genghis Khan a secret after he died at the ripe old age of 70? They had soldiers bury him, and then those soldiers were killed. They then had 800 cavalrymen ride over the location of the grave to disguise the burial place, and then all of THEM were killed too. As a result, the location of his final resting place is still a complete secret. Legend or fact, it certainly makes for a great story.

All my best,

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Ryan permalink
    June 26, 2010 4:03 am

    Thanks for the update. keep em coming.

  2. Rebecca Xochihua permalink
    June 26, 2010 3:06 pm

    Jesus! That is an insane story about Genghis Khans burial!

  3. June 27, 2010 4:17 pm

    Hey Robbie!

    Love your blog. I heard about it from my parents, and I’ve just placed your address on their bookmarks.

    I also loved East of Eden; in fact, John Steinbeck was my favorite author, until I tried to read Travels with Charlie!

    Here in Western PA, we have a similar story about graves. Gen. Braddock, George Washington’s British superior officer in the French-Indian war, was killed in a battle around here. Washington had him buried and the men trample over the grave so that it wouldn’t be desecrated. No one was killed, to keep the secret.

    Congratulations on the adventure of life time. Best wishes!

    Bill, Amy, Alan and Mallory McIvor.

  4. June 28, 2010 4:06 am

    I love reading your updates. What an adventure. Just finished East of Eden for the second time. Read it in college and loved it just as much the second time. Think of you often.

  5. James Flaherty permalink
    June 29, 2010 1:50 am

    Lucia’s in the midst of a Steinbeck sweep and finished East of Eden not too long ago. She loved it. A few years ago, my experience was the same.

    Don’t inhale too many bugs, Rob. Keep up the posts!

    James

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