During the first two weeks of November, I had the opportunity to visit Mongolia’s Tsaatan reindeer herders. After two days of driving we made it to our guide, Puuja’s house. Waking up early the next morning, our small party saddled horses and prepared ourselves for the two-days of riding it would take to reach the Tsaatan. We wound our way through wilting pine forests and across the frozen ground of the northern Mongolian tundra long after the tourist season had ended, with winter well underway.
Palabra del dia: Picoteo
Explanation: I learned this word from multiple musicians describing the struggles of making a living off of music in Santo Domingo (and in most of the world). It means playing for money. For example, when a musician has to play cheesy jazz as background music in a hotel for tourists, that’s picoteo.
Comida del dia: Guanabana
After meeting at nine in the morning, our small, but growing crew of students, teachers, and a few people just along for the ride finally left Ulaanbaatar’s city limits around eleven. We immediately pulled over and my advisor, who was orchestrating the whole trip, prepared some slices of Mongolian-style bologna and brought out a bottle of vodka. He blessed the day by making a circular motion around the rim of the cup, then gathering a drop of vodka on his ring finger and flicking it towards the sky. He then offered me the cup of vodka. My friend and translator explained, “Since it’s the first one you have to drink the whole thing”, which was followed by, “Since a woman is giving it to you, you have to drink the whole thing”, which was followed by a monk handing me another shot and, “He is thanking you for coming to his monastery and wishes you good luck”. You don’t turn down a drink from a monk. It was as if in writing, rewriting, and finally polishing my Fulbright essays over the course of two years, I had started to convince myself that I actually knew what I was doing. There was nothing like three consecutive shots of vodka to wipe an oversimplified “expect the unexpected” attitude from my mind. I was buzzed by 11:30 a.m.
› Continue reading
Palabra del día: Hormigas
Explanation: After much frustration, I finally got rid of all of the ants in my kitchen! Well, maybe not all the ants, but at least 90 percent. The trick? Boric acid and sugar dissolved in water, left out as a trap overnight. Worked like a charm.
Comida del día: Empanadas
I walk by two empanada stands on my way to work, but for some reason I waited three months to try one. I finally stopped at one today, and it turns out that deep fried dough enveloping an egg and covered in ketchup is seriously tasty. Perhaps Dominican food is growing on me?
Foto del día:
An impending storm over Cabarete beach. Hopefully the rain will stay away for the jazz festival there this weekend!
Zdravo – Hello from Belgrade, Serbia.
At this point, I’ve not been in Belgrade very long but I have already come to fall in love with Kalemegdan Park and the views from the Belgrade Fortress. At the center of the city, where the Danube and Sava rivers meet, the fortress is the oldest part of Belgrade, originally dating back to 1st century AD. Throughout its history, it has been attacked, rebuilt, and ruled by many groups including the Romans, Huns, Ottomans, and many more. The city has a very rich, complicated history between the east and the west which I am just beginning to learn.
› Continue reading