Destination Darkhan


I’m now pretty much settled in at home in Darkhan. After a grueling flight with an over 24 hour delay at the Moscow Shereyemtevo airport, due to an engine fire, I made it to the Chinggis Khan airport in Ulaanbaatar last Tuesday morning. Moscow was miserable, but I passed the time making friends with some super friendly English speaking Mongolians, and a Dutch airline pilot named, Martin. Martin and I were both headed to Mongolia for love, and it took us way too long to get in together on a bottle of duty free whiskey.

I spent the past few months in LA selling off and giving away all my worldly goods and ended up leaving LA with 9 suitcases packed to the max with art, saddles, boots, and some things I now think I could live without. Somehow, I made it past customs without any taxes. I just frustrated the poor customs officials into submission by playing the insistent American. It totally worked, and finally, after 8 months of Skype via translator friend Heegii, I got to see my fiancee, Agii. I won’t bore you with the details of all that – you can catch my love-gushing on twitter and Facebook.

Darkhan is about a 3 hour drive from Ulaanbaatar. I have no idea what that is in kilometers, but it seems like it might be a good idea to start learning the metric system. There’s a road, and it’s paved, but you also spend about half the time swerving around on it, dodging massive potholes. The scenery along the route was snow covered steppe, horses pawing for grass in the snow, and the occasional small herd of cows trying to cross the road.

We arrived at the apartment that Heegii found for Agii and I through May, and were greeted by my new in-laws-to-be with lots of Mongolian kisses, kindness and  tradition. Fresh milk was splashed on the threshold before we crossed it to mark the clean start of a prosperous life together, and I was dressed by Agii’s aunt in traditional clothes and a handmade headdress. Together we drank warm fresh milk from a silver bowl and held a blue prayer scarf to honor our finally coming together.

Next up is a traditional Mongolian wedding. I have no idea when. Maybe in Spring when my parents can be here. Gotta get legal here as well.

Agii’s family lives in the countryside outside of Darkhan and they have a good amount of livestock, business ventures in the countryside and in the city, and are an incredibly warm and popular bunch. It’s very good company to be in. We’ll be in the countryside often before we move to Ulaanbaatar in the Spring. Agii’s help is needed with work, and I am in desperate need of Mongolian housewife lessons from his cousins and aunt.

Next week is Tsagaan Tsar, the White Moon Festival. It’s the celebration of the Mongolian lunar new year, and it’s a big deal. Lots of preparations for families to make. There are familiar things like clearing debt, cleaning house, and making sure you start the year off right, but there will be lots of unfamiliar things as well. I’ll share what I find in case you find yourself in an elder’s ger not knowing what to do. I’m happy to have good teachers here.


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