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.

Friday, July 15, 2005

They said no to the motorcycle :(

I just got back from arrange (a western region of Mongolia where I worked on the archeology dig last year). This time around I was running the survey team looking for burial sights in the mountains and trying to avoid the mutton fat in the valley. I set off for the country side about two and a half weeks ago, traveling with another American student. We thought we just had a random driver to the valley, but he turned out to be a friends uncle and was using all the money we gave him for the trip to fund his family's first vacation. So the jeep was jam packed with two students, their son who spoke marginal English, his wife and the driver. As their first vacation in the region we got to stop at all the tourist sites on the way, take a lot of pictures, dress up in funny costumes and eat A LOT of ice cream. We had dinner at was essentially a huge family reunion where we were a novelty until the baby woke up and then we just got to sit back and watch. It was the best way to travel and a lot more fun than I had expected. Christine and I (the other stunt) really felt abandoned when they left us in the valley, but we adjusted pretty quickly.
The weeks in the field passed really quickly. Most of the students were returning from last year, and while the biting flies were back too we were able to get a lot of work done in a pretty short period of time. There was a six year old girl staying in our camp (the granddaughter of the Mongolian director) and she instantly became my bestfriend and an excellent Mongolian teacher. I can now play tag, hide and go seek and do a strange type of aerobics/yoga while communicating exclusively in Mongolian......But I had to return a week earlier than the rest of the group and there were long conversations about the best way to arrange my transportation. I think I caused a bit of frustration by repeatedly sighting motorcycles, horses and camels, all of which the director claimed to be "liability issues". I was really lucky when the Smithsonian excavation decided to drop by a few days early and had an extra seat in there jeeps. It was the most luxurious trip though the country side possible (they even had fresh bread every day) And I arrived safe and sound yesterday at 2:30 AM. I'm still a bit tired so I'll finish for now and post again soon. Hope everyone summers are going well~