Сайханы Хөтлийг

On 23 June, after our usual weekly trip to Suhbataar, we drove 20 minutes farther North to Сайханы Хөтлийг and the Mongolian-Russian border. To drive to this spot, we had to drive through a security checkpoint.

Through my awestruck blue eyes, I gazed upon the most beautiful sight.

IMG_1280

IMG_1259

We hopped off the bus and immediately hustled ourselves up to the top of the hill to look out at the magnificent vista of clear, blue sky and lush green hills. A crisp breeze kept me from getting to hot from the hike to the top.

All along the Mongolian border you can find more oovos. These are made up of large pile of rocks with blue scarfs weaved through. This particular one had a ram’s skull perched on top.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s these type of moments that remind me why I chose to serve with the Peace Corps in Mongolia.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On our way back, we saved a car that got stuck in the mud and by “we,” I mean, just the men.

IMG_1289

So it begins.

Time is an uncanny fellow.

It feels like only yesterday that I received my email that I have been accepted into the Peace Corps in Mongolia on 23 September 2015. At the time, I was still interning for WTTW/Chicago Tonight. But it also feels like another lifetime ago. Eight months have gone by – (four of those months I spent working at Shaw’s Crab House with a fabulous host team) – and here I am on 25 May…nervously sipping my tea and hoping I haven’t forgotten anything.

I’ve got to admit though that my favorite part of telling people that I’m leaving with the Peace Corps to Mongolia has been seeing the ripple of confusion sweeping over their faces as their eyes cloud over and their minds frantically think: Where’s that again?!?! I love Mongolia BBQ! That’s the country with Genghis Khan, right?!?! HORSES!

I can honestly say that the most difficult part has been packing. Since November, I have slowly been accumulating everything: under armor, a backpacking bag, heavy socks, a warm pair of pants, etc. I can only check in two bags – (one winter bag that will go into storage during the summer months and a summer bag) –  with the goal of them weighing no more than 50 pounds… I will be flying to Seattle for three nights and then on 28 May, I will be off to Mongolia via South Korea.

However, this past month has been incredible. My grandmother from Scotland flew in for a two week visit; my university and childhood friends all banded together at my going away party; I got to travel back into Chicago a few more times; I ate my weight in seafood during my last dinner in America. Simultaneously, I was also saying goodbye, or a see you later: “I’ll just be gone for a bit,” to everything and everyone.

I am both nervous and excited but that is as it should be.

My mom and I recently watched “Brooklyn” together and the quote that resonates with me is:

“You’ll feel so homesick that you’ll want to die, and there’s nothing you can do about it apart from endure it. But you will, and it won’t kill you… and one day the sun will come out and you’ll realize that this is where your life is.”

I will be missing my family but thank God for FaceTime, email, Facebook, and WhatsApp! Am I right?

I wish there was something more eloquent to say before I leave but all I can think of is that this is what I have been wanting to do for many years now and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. Even if I am freezing in -30 weather or I get bowled over by an ice cream craving so great because as my friend Audrey Bailey said to me last night:

“Nothing is ever as bad as what we image it to be.”

Keep in touch! 🙂