For anyone who did not grow up with the original Nintendo game system, the Mario Brothers (Mario and Luigi) are the central characters in a series of side-scrolling games. Jumping on goombas and slamming their heads into mystery boxes, they made Nintendo famous, and a whole lot of coinage. When I left the States, they were still enjoying success and fame with Paper Mario, and are virtually Nintendo’s silent spokesmen. My favorite game for the longest time was Super Mario Bros. 3, which gave Mario and Luigi the ability to fly thanks to a leaf, a raccoon suit, and a complete disconnect in logic.
However, the nonsense in 3 was easily swallowed after the nightmare that was Super Mario Bros. 2. I say this completely without malice because anyone who finished the game found out that the entire episode actually was a nightmare that Mario wakes up from. It has everything from pyramids, to flying carpets, to potions that induce trips to an inverted dreamland that is even farther “down the rabbit hole” if you realize that it’s a dream within a dream. As an adult, though, my only real complaint is the mechanics of the whirling dust devils.
In the game, the twisters act like enthusiastic trampolines. You jump in, you bounce, and you can catapult yourself out. Turns out, in real life, they should only be admired from afar. The only similarity that the virtual dust devils bear to real ones is that inside of one, they really do spin you about.
This is my last weekend in Manlai before making the trip to Ulaanbaatar with absolutely all of my possessions, and yet I’m still learning new things about life in the Gobi. I was making the short walk from school to my ger when I saw the dust devil sweep over a nearby house. I also saw the little kids next to me scurry inside the nearest building which happened to be the dormitory for the herder children whose parents still subscribe to the nomadic lifestyle out of necessity. Instead of quickly following the kids inside, I kinda simply stared at the vortex. No lasting damage was done at all, but the second or two inside of the dust devil scared the hell out of me as I couldn’t breathe and airborne rocks scratched the face and the hands covering my mouth. As I stupidly spun, I couldn’t think rationally enough to simply step out, but flashed to the memory of my first real sandstorm. That time too, I did nothing but watch it approach, doing little more but idly speculate about how the brown dirt looked against the blue sky. Thankfully, my friend Bayaa was with me and after a little miscommunication got me to run to my ger (I really thought he was asking me if I enjoyed running, which for the record, I do not).
Lessoned learned: mimicry is a fantastic survival method,
(Thus ends my recap, which also means my trip to Colorado is wrapping up. Let's see how that turned out. Writing this with 30 minutes before leaving, I am bouncing up and down with excitement. I won't get too personal here, but this lady is a special one.)