July 9, 2003 - Sun Magazine: Wasting Time in Mongolia

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Mongolia: Peace Corps Mongolia : The Peace Corps in Mongolia: July 9, 2003 - Sun Magazine: Wasting Time in Mongolia

By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 11:15 am: Edit Post

Wasting Time in Mongolia

Wasting Time in Mongolia

I spent a year in rural Mongolia, living alone in a one-room cabin with a clayand- brick stove in the middle of the floor. In the winter, temperatures dropped far below zero, and my survival was completely dependent upon how much wood I could chop.

While other Peace Corps volunteers started English clubs or business projects - or just managed to get a lot of reading done - most of my energy was devoted to getting warm, staying warm, and worrying about being cold.

Each day, after I returned from teaching English, Id make a fire and sit and watch it, my coat and hat still on. When the house warmed up a few hours later, Id remove my coat and boil melted river ice for tea. I was intimate with my stove and could start it with one match and no paper. I could hear when it needed more wood. At eleven at night, when the daily five hours of electricity ended, the music on my little boombox would slur its last note, the light bulb would go out, and Id be left in the dark with the fire, crackling and warm.

Now I look back on all those hours I sat by the stove in Mongolia, blank, numb, and flat-out exhausted, and see it as time wasted. All the same, there was an integrity to my life there that I do not find here in America, where I have time to worry about politics or finding a great-fitting pair of jeans. The blisters from the ax, the splinters in my fingertips, the soot in the creases of my knuckles - they were real.

Andrea Nelson

Denver, Colorado

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Story Source: Sun Magazine

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Mongolia; Humor; PCVs in the Field - Mongolia



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