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Spring Cleaning…

April 21, 2011

…is impossible in Mongolia. The chief offender is below:

This was probably my first real Gobi dust storm during my service. I’ve seen sand get kicked around and blow over quickly, but this one sat down on us for a good 30 minutes.

I was sitting in my ger grading papers when my support poles started to shake and the power lines outside my yard began whistling. It got several shades darker inside as the dust followed and started to block out the sun. Just being outside for a moment, I could instantly feel my molars grinding grit  and immediately had to close my eyes and just snap a photo without really looking at what I was taking a picture of, though I guess they turned out alright.

Even inside, despite my vigorous sweeping this morning, everything is coated in a fine layer of sand again, and the air is still holding that earthy itch in the nose that makes you feel like you’re about to sneeze. The weather has been strange all day, so I suppose I should have suspected something like this was coming. The morning had big storm clouds to the west, which is strange because we see so little rain down here, but the wind broke and scattered those into puffy, picturesque shapes this afternoon until all of this finally arrived. As I’m writing this now, the sun is shining again, and an enormous brown-gray cloud bank is loping off to the east.

I guess my obsession with the phenomenon stems from it being such an exotic one for me. People here ask me all the time if the dust bothers me, if the spring winds bother me, and I think my answer has got to be No. There’s no whimpering ending to winter here, it’s a sooty, grand tableau.

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