a 40 degrees Celsius. The air is dry and the wind feels like a blow dryer on my body. This is the perfect day for a picnic by the Tuul River. Carly, Cameron, Scott and I hopped on a bus heading to Zaisan Mountain. We get off before we reach Zaisan and head off the road, down to the river. I’m feeling slightly like Huckleberry Finn with my bag slung over my soldier and my pants rolled up, pushing my way through the five-foot tall weeds. As soon as we find a grassy spot not littered with trash, Carly pulls out a picnic from her Mary Poppins bag.
The area of the Tuul we are at is a popular place for Mongolians. Many come down here to bath, this being their own source of running water, others come down to spend a fun Saturday afternoon. I met a woman from America whose now turned a new leaf and is living abroad with her husband said one thing she disliked about America and why she doesn’t want to return is the level of materialism in our society. She said there is no materialism in Mongolia. The better answer would be that there can be no materialism in Mongolia. Mongolians want the same things as Americans want, but they can’t have it so they make do.
For the people by this patch of the Tuul River, swimsuits and blow-up flotation devices are a luxury. Most Mongolians are in their underwear or regular clothes and they are floating down the river on pieces of Styrofoam, which was most likely procured from the insulation at construction sites.
Despite my sarcastic comments of the E-coli infested water filled with trash, piss, and I-don’t-want-to-think-of-what-else, I wadded in waist deep to forge to the other side. It’s a very shallow river at this part, and most of the water is probably drain off from the recent rains. There is no fish, but the Mongolians find it very habitable. (You don’t want to know what color the water turned when I went home to wash my jeans and myself).
Scott and Carly both work with ADRA, an NGO that works with community development. I hope they can start some environmental programs in UB.
All splashing aside, it was a fun day, spent with great company and a good food. I feel blessed and fortunate in so many ways. More specifically, I feel fortunate that Scott could rescue me from the torrential current that picked up as the sun faded behind the clouds and cold front swept in to churn the waters against the merriment.
List of Fun Things that Happened:
1) Piggy-Back ride to safety
2) Slept in a bed in the countryside to the lullaby of the wind
3) Good company
4) Good food
5) New friends
6) Learning new words in Chinese and Mongolian