Day 1 again

How much do first impressions count for?

Yesterday, as my plane was descending into my new town, I took it all in from my window seat: the dusty landscape, the surrounding brown mountains, the sparse trees. So beautiful was my training site, Orkhon, with its greenery and roaming livestock—I’d say “hello, cows” ever a smile on my face—that maybe nowhere would measure up to its serenity, or at least the serenity I found within myself during those 10 weeks as a Peace Corps Trainee.

Last night was not only my first night in my first floor studio apartment but in a sense, it was also my first night alone. After 5 days of logistical sessions and my first work meetings with my counterpart in Darkhan, and another 5 days in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar (UB), essentially waiting for my flight and saying goodbyes to fellow Volunteers (we are now PCVs!), some I will not see for a year, I was exhausted all around. After a too-brief nap and some unpacking, my counterpart and her husband drove me to the black market for some house-hold supplies and groceries and I cooked my first dinner for myself in months. It was bland.

But as tired as I was, you know that my mind doesn’t stop during waking hours, so I sat in my you’d-think-it-was-plush-but-it’s-really-stiff-as-a-board non-reclining chair contemplating just what I’d gotten myself into, thinking that I’ll have the same view of a trash-burning dumpster outside my window for the next two years.

And at that moment, when I probably needed it most of all, the phone rang. I would have been happy to hear from anyone, of course, but I was overjoyed to speak with my host family, first my brother, then my mom, then my sister. In my limited Mongolian, I told them I had arrived that morning, that I was in my apartment, what I made for dinner, and that I had to begin work the next morning. And I listened to each of their familiar voices, comforting me not with words that I didn’t understand but with smiles that I knew existed on the other end.

There is a bigger picture forming here. The first impression will have two years worth of opportunities to be overwritten.

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7 Responses to Day 1 again

  1. Judy Dyer says:

    You are so brave!! Good luck with this next chapter…..

  2. Maryse says:

    Hi! We miss you. Send us your address! We were just so happy to hear that you have a toilet. Heh.

  3. Priscilla A. Arsenault says:

    Wow, now your real journey has just begun! Like your friend Maryse, I too am glad you have a toilet! What is this about shopping at the “black market” for your household supplies & groceries? I love your words, how you convey the realization of what you’ve gotten yourself into really hitting you now, but at the same time you’re still the Love I know, ever observant, commenting on the “you’d-think-it-was-plush-but-it’s-really-stiff-as-a-board non-reclining chair,” hahaha, funny. Gives us readers a real feel into not only what you’re thinking & feeling, but what you’re seeing. I love you, Love!

  4. Elizabeth Martin says:

    It is exciting to read about your travels and adventures in Mongolia. Maybe if you tire of looking at the dumpster, you can get online and look at pictures of your cows! 🙂 Thank you for the good work you are doing as a PCV!

  5. Crystal says:

    your words of this experience you are going through are amazing and i can ‘see’ mongolia with them. what u are doing is so cool, and u will get through the initial, ‘what did i get myself into’. miss u!!

  6. Tricia says:

    I can always send you the window ‘lamp’. Continue to look beyond the dumpster as there are so many more important aspects of your stay. You’re amazing! Hugs & kisses!

  7. eelevol says:

    Haha, Tricia! It took me a minute to realize you meant the “Christmas Story”-lamp window shade — that would be noticeable!

    Update, one an all! As of this past Saturday, I now have a plant in that window! It works wonders for refocusing my gaze.

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