Six students from the University of Pittsburgh Honors College trek across Mongolia in search of illumination, perspective, and the perfect cup of Yak-milk tea.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Damn Yankees!!

What an enlightening weekend.

I spent a large part of the past few days getting acquanited with some of the English speaking denziens of UB. Apart from our close friend, Mike the Austrailian chemist, UB has some fascinating internationals who come to Mongolia for a variety of different reasons .

Take Jon for instance. Jon is a Republican (Bleh!) from Iowa who works for an institution that promotes democratic participation. He encourages and works with Monoglians from all over the country to vote and take an interest in their government. This work has had particular important given essential dominance of the ruling party, the MPRP, in recent years. Jon ensures that the opposition party, ironically named the Democrats, get the popular support they need to validate Mongolia's two-party system. The charm of his blunt, Midwestern personality shone on Friday night and especially on Thursday when his team placed last on quiz night (We were a respectable third). Despite his party affliation I gonna trust my character-o-meter when it says he's an OK guy.

On Saturday after a rousing safety procedures talk at MCS I set off to get a haircut with our honorary tripper Zolo. Along the way we met another **ahem** "African-American". Seizing the rare opportunity to speak to another with my thorough tan, I learned that Victor was no **ahem** "African-American". Victor is a humanitarian aid worker for an agency headquartered in France with offices all over the world. He is from the DR Congo (formerly Zaire) and has been in Mongolia for 2 years. He plans on going to Paraguay next, after finishing off a final year in UB. Zolo and I learned that even though the dewey idealism that inspires people our age has left many with Victor's graying whiskers, there are still people willing to dedicate their lives to the service of others.

The next day we rose early (10 AM) to go outside the city and into the home of a very king family with horses. The patriarch was Coma, a Frenchman and former circus trapeize artist who now lives in a quiet house with his Mongolian wife, 2 boys, and a few horses. Coma and his wife opened their very warm home to us as we spent the day leisurely riding on horses and horsing around with their very limber sons aged 4 and 6. We left sad that we had to, and full off the delicious food we were given.

This past weekend was astonishing for the breadth of personalities and stories encountered. This weekend would have been a sweep of good times, if the Cubs weren't still winless at Yankee Stadium.