Friday, September 20, 2013

The Impossible Dream

Thursday, September 19, 2013

We woke up to rains that had just finished for the day, but the temperature had dropped yet another 10 degrees and the sun hid much of the time behind the clouds.  It would not have been so bad except for where we traveled.  First we met with some government people that wanted to show us their proposed projects in the areas where they have been elected to serve the people.  There are Districts, and these are divided into Harrows.  (They pronounce the ‘H’ with a guttural sound.)  We had a rented car with a driver today because there is no place to park where we met with these people.  With us this day was a young man who would be ‘leading this parade’.  I call it a parade because we would stop and pick up two politicians, drive to where they wanted us to put a dump station, drop them off and then pick up another set of politicians. 

You might call our day one of ‘pipe dreams’.  They each took us to areas where no one else would do a water project.  After seeing the sites, I began thinking of the song, ‘The Impossible Dream.’  There were two problems with all of them: (1) they were too high up on the hill (these were all located in suburbs just out of the main city) to do a borehole—who knows how long you’d have to drill to reach any water—probably to China; (2) the dirt roads were too steep and become impassable in the wintertime by a water truck that would be dumping his load into the tank.  The water truck people had already been to see these areas and told them that they would not drive their trucks up there.  The politicians (hopeful little souls) thought that we could simply build them a good road so that the trucks could get up there.  We don’t do roads, but told them that if they wanted to partner with us, they could make sure the roads stayed level and bladed so that it might be possible for a truck to get up there without tipping over as it sloshed along.  However, we know what the government does.  After the government bladed it once and everyone was happy, the following year they would ‘forget’ to do it.  Then the expense of these new water stations would go to waste.  And, some places were a bit steep and we’re still not sure if any water truck would venture to go there.

This picture does not begin to capture the spectacular views from the top of the hill to the suburbs and down to UB.

As we stood on top of these hills in the icy wind, we were all freezing, even Mugi who was born here.  I brought out my stocking hat and gloves that I’d packed (Jim smiling at me when I was packing, telling me I’d never need them) and was the warmest person standing on those hills.  The views were absolutely spectacular—you could see everything from there.  We thought how wonderful it would be to live here in the summertime…but now?  I can’t imagine what it would be like when it gets 40 below.

There are steam smokestacks that are used to power the entire city.   

Afterwards we ate our usual too late lunch, too early dinner—you’ve heard of brunch, but have you heard of ‘lunchder’?   We have one every day.  Then we called it a day.

Interesting facts: *don’t put your purse, backpack, briefcase, or important papers on the floor.  It is culturally not proper—it has something to do with putting a part of yourself on the floor and disrespecting yourself.  *Trash cleanup is fairly good in Mongolia.  Mugi says that she puts her trash out once a month and the trash truck picks it up.  During our travels yesterday we saw a landfill area for trash.  The first day we visited a dump station site we noticed these ladies from some environmental group picking up trash along the road.  We visited a site where our church contracted with a group to remove a giant pile of trash—they completed one area but not another.   *A street sweeper here is a man with a broom.  We noticed them out after the rains had stopped, sweeping up the grit in the road.  It must be dangerous here since pedestrians never seem to have the right of way.  *In a land full of cows, there must be lots of flies—this has been found to be quite true.  *When you are handed a business card, hotel bill, etc. you often receive it with two hands and a bow.  This seems to be more prevalent in Hong Kong, but we also noticed this at times here in Mongolia—they are, after all, next to China.  *Mongolia is probably one of the sparsest populated countries—it is huge, but as stated before, almost everyone lives in UB.  Several years ago they had one of those extended freezes and it killed most of the animals, which left the people living on remote ranches without food that year.  More and more people are moving closer to the city just to survive; that is why whenever you drive in the city you feel like you’re on the ‘405 parking lot’ (that is what we in Southern CA call one of our freeways).  *To make wool cloth they first wash the wool and then beat it till it becomes thick, wool material.                                   Trash pick up is much better here—they just ‘missed a spot.’

Love, From Mongolia on a chilly day.

No comments:

Post a Comment