I’ve been trying to decide what direction to go regarding my blog. I feel like I mostly chronicle my days, but I’m going to try to do some “topic writing.” After two days with my host, I moved down the road to a different camp, Nature’s Door, owned by his sister. They needed help as there are many more guests, so I agreed. It’s basically a full service camp with gers, a lodge, a full restaurant, clean bathrooms, hot showers, and they also have a variety of activities available. My initial job was to take care of three gers and the guests that would inhabit them, but when I saw the restaurant, my wheels started turning. I proposed some ideas to the owner and I suddenly became the marketing director, iPhone photographer, and liaison to the English speaking guests. Long story short- it’s been an incredible experience! I’ve learned where I can help, and when to sit back, (in the kitchen), and the owner encourages me to interact with the guests. I’ve been hiking, jet skiing, boating, and even on a motorcycle ride with different people from all over the world, and sometimes, I have dinner with them. I get ideas, feedback, and recommendations, and before I leave, I need to have a meeting with the owner to share it all.
It has taken some time, but most of the staff has warmed up to me. It’s difficult as most do not speak English and only a few Russian, but we somehow make do, even if it means I’m physically walked somewhere to be shown something. I’m getting really good at charades and I learn a few new Mongolian words everyday. I have a key to the owner’s home, a place to keep my stuff, and after a few days of sleeping in the ger, I moved to the extra bed. After spending two weeks in a ger, it was a readjustment, but it’s nice to have a place to stay for a while and I’m so honored that the staff trust me with these things.
I’m jobless, homeless, and have nothing to give- sounds pretty sad, right?! Everyday, I get something, from having a free place to stay, food to eat, and endless experiences, but I always want to give back. As a “workawayer” and ultimately a backpacker, I’m limited, not only by the amount of actual things that I can carry, but by my budget as well. I wish I had more to offer, but I will set aside some money to give to the waitresses for a lump sum tip before I go. One, my first host’s daughter, is off to college this year, and the other is young too. Often times, they treat me like a guest in the restaurant and I want them to know I appreciate their generosity. There are a few small shops around here, but they all sell the same stuff, and nothing unique, but I need to pick up a few small treats. The owner recently went on a supply run and I gave her some money for fruit. I wanted to share with the kitchen staff as fruit is very expensive so people don’t eat it often. I cut some up the other morning, but today’s loot ended up going to one of the guests- the one who took me on a motorcycle ride, as it was his birthday. I really wanted it for the staff, but I was encouraged to share with the group, it was a funny looking “birthday cake!” A plate with cut fruit dotted with individually wrapped Russian wafer cookies!
On the day that I’m writing this, I have 6 nights left. The next few days will be busy, but fun, and I hope to continue to get along well with staff, share some treats, maybe a few laughs because of my horrible Mongolian language skills. If anything, I’m always am a native speaker of English and I don’t mind helping with menial tasks such as drying dishes or peeling potatoes. Lake Khovsgal is beautiful, this experience has already been so rewarding, and I hope I have something I’m bringing to the camp as well.