On July 1, my host family and a bunch of relatives went out to the countryside to watch my host brother horse race in Orkhon‘s Naadam (which was super early for some reason). Everyone remembers Naadam, right? They had asked me on Saturday night to come with them, and when I told them I had classes that day, they told me to ask my teachers if I could skip class to go with them. I knew immediately that that wouldn’t fly, but I asked my LCFs on Monday anyway. They said that Peace Corps wouldn’t allow it, but I got the feeling they wouldn’t have cared too much. I would have liked to have gone with my family, but I also didn’t want to skip class (and I knew the technical session facilitators wouldn’t have given me the afternoon off anyway).
So they left early Tuesday morning, and I got to prepare my own breakfast (a difficult task of getting bread, butter, and sugar) and lunch. Lunch was the tough part because we got out of language class about 15 minutes late (another visit with the mayor of Darkhan), leaving me only about an hour to walk home, make lunch, and eat it. There aren’t really any ingredients that would have allowed me to throw together something quickly, so I had to peel and cut some potatoes and carrots, cut up a hunk of mutton, and cook it in a pot on the stove top to make a little soup. Unfortunately the food took forever to cook, and I was running out of time, so the vegetables didn’t get all the way cooked, but I mostly just wanted the meat cooked all the way. I still didn’t even have time to finish eating it because the food was so hot, but I got my first experience of solo Mongolian cooking. My host family came home later that day and told me my brother had won one of the races he was in! So the next day they were going back to Orkhon to see him get his champion photos taken, but Mid-Center Days were starting then, so I wasn’t able to see that either. But he was also racing at the Darkhan Naadam the next week, so I would get to see him then.