I woke up in the wee hours of the morning last Friday feeling like my ger was about to take off. I felt a little like Dorothy about to be blown away to Oz. This wasn’t Kansas though, and the wind wasn’t a twister, but a straight-line, uninterrupted blast full of sand and dust going from NW to SE. I never fell back to sleep that night, and all-told the storm lasted about 12 hours. The Peace Corps even sent us a weather alert e-mail recommending that we cancel any travel plans, and try to remain indoors whenever possible.
At 7:30 that morning, I finally got dressed and decided to try to make my way to school. The storm seemed bad to me, but I have no frame of reference on these sorts of things so I felt I’d better show up in case we were still holding classes. Wrapped up in my winter hat and scarf, I made it halfway to school before a fellow teacher happened to drive up the road as I was crossing. She was yelling out the window in Mongolian: “What are you doing?! Go home Rob! There are no lessons today!” The comic effect for anybody looking out the window that morning must have been delightful: “There’s the silly American wrapped up like a burn victim and walking to school in this awful storm.” My only consolation is I didn’t get to the front door of the school and then have to turn around.
I didn’t leave home all that day, but when I woke up on Saturday morning the sky was cobalt blue, and the only evidence of the storm was downed fences all over town. The afternoon was filled with the sound of hammers as everybody set about their new weekend chore. Like everything in Mongolia, it was a team effort, with neighbors coming over and the men making the mending a sort of social affair. It reminded me of Mr. Frost, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Happy May Day everybody.