Day 5, July 23rd – Summer camp

A rather varied day – but at least it didn’t rain!

A sponge bath in the morning, with hot water provided by Kaz, who got up early to make the fire after the fiasco of last night. It feels so good to wash in hot water again!

I still need to find an opportunity to wash my hair, though.

We didn’t have a chance to wash our clothes either, at fist because it was cloudy and we feared it would rain, and then later on, when the sun shone brightly upon us, the water tank ran out. This place has to have water delivered by a truck, and only special persons – such as our group – are gifted with a red key to temporarily unlock the faucet. It could be worse- on the trek, we’ll have to get water from a lake!

Spent half the day entertaining the children. I just can’t tell you how sweet they are. Even though they don’t speak English, that didn’t prevent us from playing card games like ‘spoons’, playing frisbee, being squirted with water pistols and distributing some of the toys we brought with us.

The rest of the day was taken up with providing wood for the fire, after experiencing having to get the fire nice and hot for at least an hour before we could start cooking. What with stripping little branches off for kindling, and snapping big branches for fuel, I am very glad I brought leather working gloves, otherwise my hands wouldn’t be hands so much as lots of splinters with miscellaneous bits of flesh around them at the ends of my arms.

Our – and particularly my – strenuous efforts created plenty of fuel for the fire, leaving plenty of time to cook, even though our hearth was commissioned by some of the staff to create and Mongolian barbecue; a procedure where plenty of stones, heated by flames, are dropped into a pot of chopped lamb and vegetables, cooking them thoroughly. It’s is fascinating to watch, and delicious to smell and taste.

Our vegetable stir fry-cum-pasta sauce, created out of some tomato sauce and whatever vegetable we didn’t want to go off, seemed rather mediocre in comparison, though it tasted very good.

Afterwards, during the heating of water, I came into my own – Amit, slopping water onto the fire by accident, put most of it out, but I endeavoured to keep it alight. eventually, after much effort with bark and twigs, I begged some of the fat off the remains of her Mongolian barbecue from Manda, our interpreter. I applied the fat to the fire on a wing and a prayer, and – SUCCESS!

The fire burst back into splendid life again, if not immediately.

The rest of the day was mediocre in comparison – clearing up, and a disco with the kids. It is official. Children in Mongolia dance better than I do.

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