TV Tower and Wolfish Wisdom
I ventured up a rusty TV and cell phone tower this weekend to enhance what was already a breathtaking view. Probably not one of the wisest things I’ve ever done, but it afforded me a pretty fantastic perspective on the countryside around us. I think I was probably looking several miles in every direction. There was a family that lived inside the little communications tower. I’d assume they’re responsible for upkeep and maintenance. The father of the family had rescued an abandoned wolf pup from the forest nearby and I’ve included a few photos of that little guy as well.
The reason for my family’s little jaunt into the hills this past Sunday was to find grass that my host-brothers will be scything down this week. I’d assume they gather and keep it as hay for the animals during the winter, but I’m wondering just how much grass they’ll be getting for that purpose, and with what. We don’t have any heavy machinery to haul bales back to our house, and our Toyota Vitz seems a little small to carry any meaningful amount. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how this all plays out as I don’t quite have the language to navigate a conversation that would explain what they need it for.
I’m in the midst of my last week of practice teaching. It’s hard to believe, but this summer has already passed me by. In about a week I’ll be heading back to the Aimag center for “Final Center Days,” where I’ll be hearing my final work site announcement and making my last few preparations for a departure to my Mongolian home away from home. It’s going to be hard to leave. I think our training group was particularly lucky with the town we’ve been stationed in, and the PCV that’s headed here permanently after swearing-in is stepping into a very cozy site. I’ll be sad to leave the comforts of my host-family and the fast friends I’ve made among the training group here. They say that the 10-12 people you spend your first summer in country with are people you’ll stay in touch with for the rest of your lives—I certainly hope that it holds true for us.
That being said, I am very excited about site announcements. There’s certainly a lot of speculation amongst us as to where we think we’ll be going. A few people will even be finding out this week, because some (4 out of our 75) are headed to the far western province, Bayan-Olgii. They will start an intensive training crash course to prepare them to live out there. Kazakh is the language in the region, and it’s culturally quite different from the rest of Mongolia because the dominant religion was, and still is, Islam. I’d be interested to visit Bayan-Olgii, particularly for their eagle festival in the summer. Kazakh eagle hunters use enormous brown eagles to hunt small game out on the steppe; like falconry, but with even larger birds. The eagles have even been known to carry off small sheep. As interesting as all that sounds, I’m not sure I’d like to have it as my permanent site. I feel like I’m just starting to make some progress with the Mongolian language and to have to start all over again would be very tough. C’est la vie—In all honesty, I’ll be excited to go wherever I’m placed.
All my best,
P. S. Please wish my Dad a very happy 60th birthday!