Thursday, October 20, 2011

Posts from Mongolia (2 of 3)

In case you haven't guessed, these posts have been loaded on a schedule. Technology rules. This is the perfect excuse to take a step back from the current events and talk a little more about what I originally had in mind here. This post was originally titled - Rock Gardens and Gers:

For the last two years I have lived in a tent, the traditional style of home that Mongolians call a ger. It is round with a conical top that resembles the stereotypical picture of an igloo that I have in my head. However, where the Inuits use ice, Mongolians use a wooden lattice-work frame covered in felt or tarpaulin. In the western parts of the country the gers are almost entirely conical and could be easily mistaken for Native American teepees. Do not mistake a ger for a yurt, because while they are technically the same thing, hippies and Russians live in yurts. I am a returning Peace Corps volunteer and the difference is that hippies go into Peace Corps and cynics come out.

Every spring I grow a rock garden on top of my ger with the help of the seasonal sandstorms. After making it through my first winter, I thought that the hard part of the year had passed (which in fact it had, as the 2009-2010 winter was called a zud, a winter so cold that large portions of herds died, some livestock frozen while still standing) but then the rising temperatures in the Gobi brought wind and sandstorms. I have never seen a ger blow over, but I have watched as the double-sided outhouse I use was picked up and thrown in spite of the heavy corded rope and rocks tied to it. The refuse pit left uncovered looked like both a festering wound and a warning. Usually after the first big storm hits in the spring and I have spent a couple of days holding the shaking supports in my ger unsure if the trembling is due more to the wind or my own fear, my school’s director or maintenance workers drop by and pile anything heavy and at hand on my roof. This year, in addition to the sand and rocks that are typical parts of any rock garden, I have two brake drums (which eerily reminds me of my senior year in high school when I spent a semester sand-blasting and painting brake drums for a percussion piece), an iron I-beam, and two iron radiators which at one point were probably used in the hot-water boiler system that heats my school.

When I get back from Colorado, I will work on adding some pictures,

- John

1 comment:

  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! So glad you are back in this country. Hope you are having a great day and vacation. Talk soon! <3