July 1, 2012

I went for my first visit to the countryside last night. It was after 8 when my mom and sister appeared at my bedroom door and said we were going. When I realized they meant me, too, and I looked at my watch, my mom laughed and gave me the option to stay home, but I was too curious.

The trip started with the Jolooch (driver) inflating his front left tire with a bicycle pump. The driver was on the right side in this particular car, but Mongolia has both kinds depending on where they originate. My grandma got priority seating in the front passenger seat, with a young boy on her lap. My mom, sister and I got in the back seat with the little sister. The neighbor’s husband got in next to me and I said, “whoa, cozy!” So, when his wife got in to the 5-passenger vehicle and sat on his lap, I was speechless. I’d heard the stories, but this was my first experience.

The ride was nearly an hour, because only about 20 minutes of it is on the paved road when the Jolooch is able to get up to 60km/hr, the rest was between 20-40km/hr. I wonder if a Mongolian driver could tell you how much it is to fill up his tank… A curious thing we’ve noticed is that the drivers tend to run on empty, stopping once a trip to get as much gas as you can pump in 60 seconds or so. Oh, and the car was running the first time that happened so i guess you won’t blow up which I was somehow led to believe.

I’d assumed we were going to see my dad who lives in the countryside and whom I’ve only seen about once a week, but it was his brother’s place and he wasn’t there. The brother and wife live in a ger (rhymes with “care”), the traditional Mongolian one-room round house. I couldn’t tell if there was a special occassion, but there were about 20 adults—-gers are very spacious! They served me Sulte-tse (traditional Milk Tea) but otherwise, left me alone to observe. We stayed an hour or so and the ride home was just as cozy.