We M-19's will have been in Mongolia one year as of June 2, 2009 (I believe that's the day we got in, perhaps it was the first). Because so many things about being in Mongolia seem so normal now, it feels like I've been here much longer than a year. I feel like I've forgotten a lot about life in the States (though I'm sure it will come back to me quickly upon arrival).
My recent travels to Kharkhorin, Khinti, and now, UB have reminded me that I have acclimated more to Bayankhongor than to Mongolia. In Bayankhongor I know where most things can be found, I have friends and family there, and my ger really feels like home. Being away from that feels like starting all over again. Or, at the very least, always feels so temporary and destroys my routines and patterns that I enjoy so much.
This really hit me the other day when I was walking home from the Peace Corps office here in UB. I had just discovered that a concert had been postponed, that our BACC grant will require further revision, and that I will have to come back to this city on the 27th of this month for another concert. Brooding over these things as I crossed a plaza someone decided that they should try to steal my water bottle out of my backpack. They succeeded in knocking it out of my backpack but didn't manage to grab it. It rolled across the plaza with a mumbling American following it. As if that weren't enough, a group of people decided that they would yell out, "Hey, that's mine." Clearly an untruth that I did not really want to deal with.
Made me miss home.
Discussing this feeling of temporality with some other volunteers the comment was made that while at times it certainly does feel as though we have been here forever, we are also always thinking about our close of service. So sometimes we end up in this strange place in between the knowledge that this will most certainly end and the feeling that it has been going on forever.
Second year goes faster say some, slower say others. I can understand where work may feel slower. You know the drill, and perhaps start the countdown school calender. On the other hand since everyday life will certainly feel more routine, time may move faster.
Bayankhongor will get three more volunteers this year, and that should help spice up our lives a bit. May keep us from cynicism or push us over its edge.
My sister Nikki will be here soon and the schedule of events looks something like this:
1) Hang out in UB for a few days and rest.
2) Go to Javkhlant and ride some camels, visit and swim in the beautiful river there.
3) Back to UB and then on to Bayankhongor.
4) Back to UB to greet the new volunteers and do some shopping before Nikki heads home again.
Summer will go by even faster than I thought, I think... Lots of practicing to do before I make grad school recordings sometime in October. Still have some pieces to memorize and Mongolian music to learn for another concert in October (again in UB, please please please let these two events coincide lest I go to that city twice in one month).
Fourteen months to go. My bets are on a fast second year. Will keep you posted.
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