As my Mongolian language skills at this point amounted to saying hello, goodbye, thank you, and giving my name, the first weekend was pretty awkward. My host mom speaks a little bit of English, but she was gone all of Saturday and most of Sunday on a trip with her coworkers at her school. The daughters know a tiny bit of English, but not enough to communicate effectively. So pantomiming it is!
I really didn’t know what to do for those first few days, as our PST classes didn’t start until the following Monday, there is no internet access in our house*, and I can’t communicate well enough to ask what to do. So I mostly stayed in my room napping, studying Mongolian, or writing blog posts to actually post later when I could find an internet café or something. I would come out of my room every now and then to play with or watch the daughters play with the baby, which at least gave us something to share some laughs over.
They’ve been feeding me very well so far. As soon as we got to the house on Friday, my host mom served me some buuz (steamed meat dumplings, yummy!) and coffee. They continued to give me instant coffee about 3 more times throughout the day. One of the daughters brought me some little scone-like things later in the afternoon, and for dinner we had rice with mutton, potatoes, carrots, and onions. For breakfast the next morning they gave me bread with some kind of cream/cheese/something dairy-ish to spread on it, along with butter and sugar. For lunch we had more buuz. For dinner we had noodles with mutton, potatoes, carrots, onions, and bell peppers. Breakfast Sunday morning consisted of ul boov, a kind of traditional hard-as-rock pastry thing and bread with a fried egg on top. Lunch was noodle soup with—you guessed it!—mutton, potatoes, carrots, and onions. I’m sensing a pattern here…
The older daughter showed me how to cook using their stove, and I learned that all my food’s been cooked using cow dung as fuel! Yay! I got to watch my host dad and the older daughter milk their cows while the younger daughter and I played with the baby. Then on Sunday I helped the older daughter fetch water. The homes out here have no running water, so we have to fill giant jugs with water from a communal water house (which gets water brought in from a giant truck), then bring them back home to fill an even bigger barrel. All of the water they use for cooking, cleaning, washing, and doing laundry comes from that barrel. The drinking water does too, but they have electric kettles to boil the water first, so all the drinks are served very hot. The Peace Corps also provides all of us with a water filter so that we can drink colder water without dying. Several weeks into my stay, my host family also bought me my own electric kettle to keep in my room so that I can make coffee whenever I want it!
They also gave me a stash of coffee, creamer, sugar, and a mug and spoon that are “only for me.” So now I have my own little coffee corner in my room, and an electric kettle, which will also come in handy at my permanent site!
*About halfway through the summer my host family did get wifi, but I think it’s a hotspot on the sister’s laptop, so I can only use it when she’s also on her computer. But it’s still nice to get access every now and then (or else I would still be waiting to put up these blog posts).