Friday, July 08, 2005

Oh the weather

After wonderful warm weather, clear blue skies and even warm water at the beach for the 4th of July weekend, it is cold (50 sometime tonight), damp, dark, windy and raining very hard . . . again! This is the tail end of a hurricane. There is the promise of 80-90 degree temps for next week. Well it is New England after all . . .


How very tragic. So many dead and injured. How vulnerable we all are.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Dear All:

Just a short one today, as I've got only a short amount of
time to write tonight.

A big "thank you!" to all who have written. I thoroughly
enjoyed all of your comments and thoughts. Please understand
if I don't respond to you individually until I get back.

Work continues apace and we are really accomplishing quite
a bit. We're working on about six houses at once, and it's
so heartening to see the changes that we are
able to make every day.

Floors are going in, roofs are going up, chimneys are rising
higher and higher and the outsides are getting stuccoed then
painted. Soon they'll be full of Mongolian families who will
finally have a place to call their own.

Yesterday began the season of accidents. Two thumbs got
hammered and required BenGay. At the cookout we went to way
out across the plains last night (more about that in detail
later), we had a blown out knee incurred during a volleyball
game with some of our Mongolian co-workers, along with a
dislocated thumb. Thank heavens I bought the more expensive
First Aid kit from EMS. Still waiting for a chance to use
the syringe and some of the other fanc supplies within!

One of our team had a close call the day before yesterday
which could only be something out of a Monty Python sketch.
He was crossing the one main road in Erdenet, looked
carefully both left and right, then stepped out. It was at
this juncture that he was hit by a man on a yak who had
just turned the corner and was going at a fairly decent
clip. Martin was knocked to the ground, but not hurt, and
when he looked up he saw both man and yak disappearing down
the street -- the man completely occupied with the
conversation he was having on his (you guessed it!) cell
phone. One of these days there's going to be a law passed
here to prohibit yakking on a yak in traffic!

Must go now. More later.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005


If I had known you needed tools I would have donated the hammer you used in my kitchen!

Not the 4th but . . .

This year Mongolians are celebrating the 84th anniversary of the revolution of the People’s Republic of Mongoliaon July 11-13, 2005.

Found this info on: where there is a photo of the plains and blue sky you mentioned.

Hello from Marblehead

Margo: About time you heard from us! Returned from Northern California to sweltering Boston on June 29. Fortunately, it has cooled off, so we're working in our garden planting flowers and generally sprucing up the yard. Last night, we went to the Boston Club cookout. Sitting down with members at a social event is a lot of fun. I've grown to like that group very, very much. Re. Habitat: so glad that you were able to purchase needed tools with those donated funds. The way you are going, our local contractors will be lining you up for work on one of their projects when you return!

Ann & Everett

Monday, July 04, 2005

Fourth of July in Mongolia

Happy 4th of July to all! Unfortunately, it's not a holiday here, so we put in a full day of work. I am proud to report that I am becoming a master roofer. I spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon putting a roof on one of the houses we're building any my supervisor, Naraa, was very pleased with my facility with the hammer. So, too, were my teammates. Frankly, I was rather surprised at how well I was able to pound these 6" nails in -- mostly because they're made of such a soft material that they're constantly bending.

Later in the afternoon, I switched to the flooring division and helped lay a sub-floor in another house. The levels, plumb lines, carpenter's pencils and metric tape measures I brought are being used constantly.

We're working on a big plain atop one of the low-lying hills that surround Erdenet. It just rolls forever and the sky is so blue and the clouds so white and beautiful.

Food continues to beg description. Breakfast every morning consists of two slices of white bread with a small dollop of horse pate and a cup of weak tea. It's not enough to send us out to a full day of work, so we are commandeering the kitchen as of tomorrow morning, buying groceries and making our own breakfasts.

Had a very interesting luch today at the site (Usually one of our transport vans goes into town and gets takeout for us, enabling us to work on site.). Today, it was yak schnitzel with rice and an odd sort of cole slaw. Very chewy and with a very game-y taste. I gave mine to one of the guys.

We find we need things we hadn't brought, such as knee pads for kneeling while hammering and sawing. A quick visit to the store across the street provided us with cotton balls. These we combined with duct tape and twine to make very servieable -- and somewhat less stylish -- knee pads. Worked great.

The money that was supposed to have been wired to us here from Habitat in the States still has not arrived. Hopefully, tomorrow.

The Mongolians are very lovely to work with and we are learning a bit more Mongolian every day. Who knows? Maybe we'll be fluent by the time we return!!

Would kill for some Jack Tarr ribs or a good hamburger! Met two Irishmen from County Galway this morning, who spend most of their time traveling in Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and the like examining the local methods of butchering meats. All of these countries want to be able to sell their meat (well, okay, not the yak, camel, horse or marmot meat!) to EU countries, but their butchery methods aren't quite up to EU standards yet. Although most meat sold in the three main cities is supposed to be okay, everywhere else it is apparently riddled with parasites and all sorts of other things that can make you very sick. Hopefully, we're getting the good stuff.

Saw a church spire rising out of Erdenet the other day and was told it was a Mormon church! Imagine -- in the land of Shamans. Go figure!

That's it for now. More later.


Sunday, July 03, 2005

bumpers mom

The weather has gotten perfect just in time for the 4th. Town is littered with Farts festival and tourists, I am remaining disreatly on the west shore, B is not happy with the fireworks which go off from time to time.

Well into it!

Left Ulaan Bataar Friday evening at 8:45 for the 14-hour overnight train trip to Erdenet, where we'll be doing our building for the next two weeks. The trip is only about 5 hours by car, but the roads are so bad it was deemed better to go by train.

Arrived in Erdenet early in the morning and checked into our "luxury" hotel ($8/night!!!). The women are living dormitory style in two rooms of four; then men similarly in a room of five. I, as queen bee, have my own room, but it's nothing to write home about: somewhat dirty, a low and lumpy bed that looks as if the customers are changed regularly, but not the sheets, and no hot water. My first shower was FREEZING, but I finally had to wash my hair.

After a quick breakfast of a greasy fried egg and a piece of bread, we headed right out to the countryside where our worksite is located. If this is all we're going to get for breakfast every morning, we're going to die of starvation!

Once out on the site, which is a vast, rolling plain, we met the homeowners for and with whom we're building these houses, as well as the Habitat construction forewomen and foreman. That's right, the head construction supervisor is a woman, the second in command is a woman and the third is a man. No one speaks English or Russian, so neither my English or limited Russian will do us any good. We do have one translator with us, so she's kept pretty busy.

Most of our first day on site, it rained like crazy, so it was a tough day. My task most of the day was painting badly carpentered window frames with paint that was really too thick to brush on. The tools are hopelessly inadequate as are the supplies. The tools I and others brought were received with GREAT joy. Thank you, Ann and Elliott, Becky, Jessica and others who made contributions. They're strutting around with their ACE hardware inch/metric measuring tapes like roosters after a roll with a hen, and the levels, plumb lines and other tools went into immediate use.

Uh, oh, my time's up. I've got to get to dinner.

More later.



Saturday, July 02, 2005

Summer is here

What absolutely perfect weather this afternoon, not too hot and little humidity. Spent it digging in the dirt!