Hanging out in the Huduoh
Duirng training one Tuesday night I was informed upon arriving home that myself and my Mongolian family needed to go to the hudouh (countryside). I told them all that I couldn't, because I had Mongolian dance practice, but they were not budging. So, I skipped dance class to head to the hudouh with the fam.
The entire event, was disastrous from the start. We stopped on the way out of town, to get gas...which for some reason made the car smell like gasoline the entire hour and half ride. Also, the driver hit a curb on the way out of town, so we had a flat tire the whole time. Approximately every 5-10 kilometers, we'd pull over, look at the tires, get back in the car, and carry on. We continued our trek, flat tire and all, without changing it or fixing the issue. The car continued to scrape on the ground, and at one point, I'm fairly certain we lost some piece of car metal behind us.
We spent maybe 45 minutes to an hour at the ger (small tent house) in the hudouh, and then piled in the car to head home. After driving about 5 km, the driver turns around to go back to the ger to FINALLY change the tire. We all pile back into the car about 30 minutes later to head home, again...happy and ready!
After driving for about a half hour, the driver discovers we're lost in the hudouh. Being lost in the hudouh is NOT like being lost in the states. There are NO lights, no gas stations to pullover and ask for directions, no street names/sign...actually, no real streets for that matter. My host dad and the driver continued to get out of the car look around, get back in, drive ten feet, and repeat for about 20 minutes before calling it a loss. Calling it a loss=sleeping in the car until day break...which is exactly what occurred.
My family looked at me, and simply said, "Oont (sleep)." A seemingly easy task, was anything but simple. We were in a 5 person car, piled full with 8 people and 2 goats that smelled absolutely awful. The driver had an horribly disgusting cough---and covering one's mouth is most certainly not practiced here. It was COLD and storming outside, but hotter than imaginable in the packed car. I had half my body size of room in which to sleep, and then the driver decided to recline, just to make my spacial region even more comfortable. When I'd finally fall asleep, something inevitably would happen: the 2 year old in the front would need to go outside to go to the bathroom, the driver would have a coughing fit, the goats would freak out and try to start standing (flopping like fish out of water) and baaaahing extremely loudly in my ear, or someone would get hot and have to crack a door. Between sleeping next to the goats, and behind Sicky McSickerson, I considered myself super-human for not winding up sick. It was extremely hot in the vehicle, but since it was cold outside my host family would consistently try to cover me up with camel wool jackets. It was like sleeping in the monkey cage at the zoo, simultaneously to sleeping in an inferno, simultaneously to sleeping at the bottom of a doggy pile. Needless to say, the night was restless.
Every time everyone woke up at the same time, my host family would ask me, "Yadachs no? (Are you tired?)". Ummm, YES I was tired, it's was 5 am and I had yet to sleep!
At 5:30, the sun started to peak through the rain and clouds...enough to light the road anyway, and we were off! We pulled up to a random ger, and spent the next 15 minutes asking how to find/get to our town.
We finally arrived back at our house at 6:30 in the morning (I had to be up for language class at 8:30). My ger was completely flooded from the monsoon the night before, because the tops of gers have flaps that open and close, and mine had been open for 12 hours of torrential downpours. I ignored it...cold and wet I climbed into my sleeping bag for 2 hours of sleep. While sitting in the car among my host family and the goats, during the shenanigans that equaled one of the most tiring ridiculous nights of my life, I couldn't help but smile. Ordinarily, in the states, I assume I would have been angry or frustrated. But, in Mongolia, I smiled at the thought of my life. The fact that there I was in the middle of nowhere Mongolia, sleeping with 8 people and 2 goats. Thank you Peace Corps for allowing us to live lives that are the polar opposite of dull.