Hello from Ulaanbaatar!
If you think it’s strange to write about winter in May, you don’t know Mongolia. I’d been planning to give an update long before this, in which I was prepared to write about how mild this winter was compared to that memorable first winter, when my toes froze. But, it’s a good thing I waited because now I can update you that we had the snowiest month in Govi-Altai in APRIL. I didn’t see that coming, given last years’ frigid temps but little snow accumulation overall. It was certainly freezing this winter, but it never got to that chilled-to-the-bone point. I was glad about that because my apartment, which was extra hot last year, was only warm enough this year. And, just when I’d decided to stop wearing my winter coat, we had 2 weeks of miserable weather: all manner of precipitation, from the fine flakes that vanish as soon as they hit the ground, to the big fluffy wet snow. There was 4 inches one night! But anywhere that gets the sunshine melted in a day or two. We also had rain and howling winds and lost the power a few times. It wasn’t all bad, actually. Having the wet weather kept the dust storms down, which I’m not sure I ever mentioned but that’s what spring in Altai is like: mini funnel clouds popping up all over town.
But, you notice I’m writing to you from UB–the capital city, very much not in the desert. We came here for our Close of Service conference (already!), the last time we will all be together. I’ll definitely write about that soon. What’s relevant here is that on our last day of the conference, May 7, 2014, it snowed, in keeping with some ~5 year tradition of snow during COS. And this morning, I woke up to a sloppy white mess–at least three inches had fallen in the city. (I’m sure I’ve seen snow here, but I don’t believe it was fresh.) As with much of Mongolia, UB doesn’t have the best infrastructure and the snow, much of which melted due to a later steady light rain, flooded the streets, sidewalks, patches of grass, parking lots, and basically everywhere.
So, my last winter in Mongolia was even longer than the first, but the trees in UB are already turning green and I’m hopeful that when I get back to site in 2 days, Altai’s few trees will have caught up.
Coming soon to this blog: COS Conference, UB, final language assessment. Until then, here’s hoping your spring is less snowy.