Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Year of the Monkey

“Mongolians believe that the ‘monkey-year’ brings climatic disasters—severe winters and heavy animal losses. Recent records support this. In the monkey-year winter of 1944-45, one-third of the nation’s livestock (eight million) died due to heavy snowfall. Then again during the monkey-year winters of 1956-57, 1968-69, and 1980-81, bad weather led to more than two million animals dying each time (roughly a 10% national decrease).”
Excerpt from The Changing World of Mongolia's Nomads  by Melvyn C. Goldstein, Cynthia M. Beal

Right now, it’s the year of the sheep, which is neat because I am a sheep according to the Chinese calendar. The Chinese New Year of 2015 even took place on my birthday. So on my birthday, it also became my sheep year the same day. Cool, huh? Baaaaaaaa!

Many of my fellow volunteers have been posting snow pictures on Facebook. It is snowing all over Mongolia. In September. My aimag-mate, Dylan, has also had snow in his soum. Somehow, we here in Chinggis Hot have been spared of the September snow, although we really thought we might get some today. It has been a cold “fall” day, with a high of 40 and low of 23. It was cloudy and rainy today too.

In February, the Chinese New Year takes place on the 8th. So, guess what that means? The year of the monkey is coming. This winter. AND it will STILL be the year of the monkey during our second winter here. All my colleagues at school have been saying it is cold for September, so we are bracing ourselves. Currently, I am wearing a light pair of thermal underwear, pants, wool socks, a shirt, and a big fleece pullover as I sit in my apartment at 10pm.

Late last night, we were visited by a random, official-looking Mongolian with a clipboard and paper. She came in and started speaking rapid Mongolian at us. We nodded and smiled and heard the word for “heat” and were excited. This evening, our radiators have started to slowly warm up. I don’t know how the magic of radiators work, but we are happy that our heat is being turned on. Unfortunately, we have no control over it, so if they are too hot or too cold, there’s not much we can do about it.

Alabama winter is here. Soon, we will experience temperatures we’ve never felt in our lives. I am a little nervous, especially because none of the stores are selling winter clothes yet. But I am confident we will survive. We will not let the monkey defeat us!!!



  1. Glad you have heat but too bad you can't control it. I hope Caleb finds a parka soon. Stay warm! Love you.

  2. I saw Calebs' teacher day photo. need boots.

  3. Yes, we both need good parkas and boots, Caleb moreso than I. We'll let you know when that happens.