Means sand on your floors, as well as on your computer, and on your iPod, and in your shoes–even the ones you haven’t worn. It means heat. And sweat.
No longer am I at my host family’s house with its shower and indoor plumbing and guaranteed meals. I am in a ger, which is one big round room in which to do everything but one’s business. If I want to get clean, I have to use a tumpin, which is big round bowl in which everything gets clean (clothes, dishes, bodies). My meals will be prepared on a stove, which will most likely be a big round place in the center of my ger on which stir-fried veggies are cooked and in which a fire will have to be maintained. (The stove is supposedly coming tomorrow, however.)
Life in the Gobi is probably hard. I say that as I look at the thick layer of sand on my floor, blown in from a minor wind. What will happen when there are major winds? Will I actually have to walk outside in the sand storm and fold up (or down?) the cover of the ger? (I know the answer to this, by the way. Please.) And why does everyone keep asking me if I can live in a ger? As if I had a choice in the matter. As if I would even know. I just smile and nod. Of course, my nonverbals say. ‘Can you make a fire?’ No. Good thing it’s still summer, I think.
A good thing about a ger is that it can be decorated. Mine came complete with a rice cooker, a fridge, a tea kettle AND water boiler, two king-sized chairs, an iron, dishes, tables, bed, dresser, 10 kilos of rice, etc. I taped some photos to the sheet that counts as a wall, set out the Matrushka doll set my Eej bought me from Russia, and hung my scarves like wings from the bars that count as the roof. It feels like home.
This is what I’ve come up with so far as a to-do list: make friends to make my ger-dwelling life easier (because, as I’ve said, I don’t know how to make a fire, and they say that’s kind of important);
buy a broom to get rid of the desert that has become my floor;
learn how to live in my own filth OR buy a fan OR tumpin more often;
differentiate China from Mongolia in the browns on the horizon.
My life in the Gobi. Piece of cake.