My dad’s travel journal part 7
Tuesday, August 24, 2010:
The day started for us at around 7 AM. Carol was out of bed ahead of me today. Montezuma’s revenge has gotten both of us. Actually, 3 out of the 4 adults were afflicted. We don’t know which meal got us, but there must have been some bad food somewhere. Carol seems to be suffering more than I am this morning. Chris had to get up before the rest of us and head back to Ikh Tamir to pick up the two girls from the Ulaanbaatar church…the ones who had been conducting a Bible camp in the provinces. Since we had the church vehicle and were available to provide transportation for the girls, he thought it to be a wise idea. Otherwise they’d have to crowd into some public bus for the long ride home. He expected to pick them up and be back in Tsetserleg by 8:00 AM to join us for breakfast. Tiff got a text message from him saying that they had prepared breakfast there, so he would be delayed. Tiff, the boys, and I went down to the restaurant to eat. Carol slept…attempting to get relief from her illness. In an effort to keep my food down, I ate dry toast, some eggs, and drank hot tea. I took Carol a piece of dry toast. After breakfast, I took the boys out for a walk while Tiff went in search of medicine for us. In Mongolia, many stores do not open before 9:00 or 10:00 AM, so she came back empty-handed. She was feeling somewhat sick too,…a surprise to her, as she hasn’t had much of a problem with the food in Mongolia during her 1 1/2 year stay. While I was out with the boys, we saw 4 pigs, some buses, 6 dogs, many people, etc. I stay amazed at the ability of these people to be immaculately dressed, and to stay clean, with dirt everywhere. The ladies wear stockings and high heels. You will see them cleaning the dust off their shoes if they stop somewhere and have time to do so. At around 9:00 o’clock, Chris, Gantuya, and Mugundboler arrived. The girls went to a store, while Chris ate some breakfast. Not sure if it was his second meal…or if he had declined earlier. I went into the ger in front of our hotel and bought a purse shaped like a sheep, made of wool…for a granddaughter. Tiff helped me try to bargain with the proprietor, but that isn’t always successful in Mongolia. I paid him his asking price of 15,000 tugrik….a bit high, but only about $10.50 U.S. By 9:30, we were all in the microbus and ready to head back to the city. The girls had the very back seat. As before, the roads were rough…but this time we knew to expect that. We watched for one particular blemish in the pavement that was about the size of a car. Chris saw it in time to avoid it. The girls could hear something making an unusual noise at one point, so we stopped and found that we’d bounced the spare tire holder loose from its wire holder. It was soon re-secured, and we resumed our trip. We stopped once for a bathroom break, at a small roadside village. Elijah and I headed across the road to a huge dirt pile. As we walked, we scared off a flock of some sort of scavenger birds. We went behind the pile, amongst a bunch of rotting animal parts, bones, and flies…hoping to have enough privacy for a “leak”. While fully engaged in the task, I turned and saw these two college-age girls off to my right…headed for a pit-toilet. Whether or not I gave them a show…I don’t know, but since they live in Mongolia, I assume they are used to it. Chris went to another pit toilet on our left. Both were just a wall of wood, with a metal roof…giving a tiny bit of privacy from the road. Back in the parking lot, we encouraged Carol to use one of them. She was not impressed by the experience. Their were many flies and the odor was not pleasant. Before we boarded our vehicle, we saw a lady and some kids trying to hitch a ride. It wasn’t long before a truck picked them up. This is a common sight here. You only hope that they are safe. We saw a truck, similar to a pickup, but different…with an open bed full of sheep. Wondered if they are ever tempted to jump.
People tried to wave us into their stores or restaurants, but we soon took off and headed down the road. As the road got better, Chris’s foot got heavier. There were times when we were traveling at 120 kilometers per hour (75 mph). I worried a bit because of the unexpectedness of bad patches that could suddenly appear in the road, but God was with us and we traveled safely. I had warned Chris about letting a diesel engine run out of fuel. Unlike a gasoline engine, it takes a lot of mechanic work to prime a diesel engine that has been starved for fuel. I only knew that it could be bad…didn’t know how to actually do the priming. We did okay, until late afternoon. Chris was stretching the fuel to its limits. Suddenly, he told me that the fuel warning light had come on. We were still about 15 miles from the next town. He began coasting when possible and driving slower for better fuel economy. I don’t know if he was worrying, but I was doing plenty of it for him. We finally saw a gas station and coasted up to a pump…where the vehicle engine immediately died. Another customer had arrived just before us. No attendant was visible and we were not sure that the station was open for business. The girls climbed out and finally someone found the attendant, asleep inside the building. He put fuel into our vehicle and we held our breath (I did, sort of) while Chris re-started the engine. It started without a problem. Boy, was I ever thankful for that. Around 4:30 PM, we entered the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar. We had been on the road for 7 hours. It was now “rush hour”, and traffic was a mess. Everyone just crowded into whatever lane that they wanted to be in, even if you were there before. Sometimes vehicles just missed colliding by inches. We dropped both girls off near to their homes. This was actually our first venture back into the city…we hadn’t spent much time there before going to the countryside. People were everywhere…waiting for buses, crossing the street between cars, etc. Often, you can’t turn the direction that you need to because traffic police control the intersections and the flow of cars. You sometimes have to go way out of your way…or at least plan far ahead, in order to be in the lane that will allow you to turn where you need to. It frustrates Chris, but he is pretty efficient in this mess. It only took us until about 5:00 PM to reach the apartment (home…sweet…home). We had a lot of luggage and other stuff to unload. I guess I planned thing right, because I stood by the vehicle and guarded stuff while everyone else made trips up and down the stairs. Actually, I felt guilty…but not much!
By 6 o’clock, the boys had found their toys, laundry had been started, dinner was being prepared, and computer updates had been installed. I am working on these notes and Elijah is about to sing me a song in his fantasy language. Supper consisted of chicken soup and boiled eggs. Tiff and I went to the store afterwards and came back with ice cream novelties for everyone…for dessert. It was nighttime in Mongolia, but morning back at home in Kansas City. So…I got on the phone and called my co-workers at Herald & Banner Press…and our daughter, Christina. Because we were very tired, we didn’t last very long….bedtime came soon after 9:00 PM. We listened to the boys having devotions, settled our debts with Chris, and headed for the sack. One final note: I mentioned doing the laundry. Let me tell you about living in this apartment. A benefit of living in a country such as this…you can sometimes afford to hire a “helper”…a housekeeper. Tiff has a girl come in and help her with household tasks. They are able to influence that person about spiritual things. Their previous housekeeper found Jesus…and has already died and gone on into eternity. Hopefully, their influence will help this girl, too. But…I was trying to tell you about the laundry. There is only room in the apartment for a washing machine…and that is in the bathroom. When clothes come out of it, they ALL go on a folding rack for drying. One load has to wait for the other to dry. Mongolia is a dry climate, so that is an advantage, but those of us who have an electric dryer are a bit impatient with this process.
All of the drinking water that is consumed comes from a filtering system. You pour water into it…wait…then dispense it below. That is a day in / day out part of life. Buying from the market is another story entirely. That will wait for another day’s journal. Bye, for now.
For those of you following these emails, this may be the end for tonight. I’ve been at this for about 12 hours and I’m sick of it. Do hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this. The remainder of our activities will take place within the city and on a one-day trip to the countryside…east of the city. Our previous journey was to a province in the west. Adios for now!