Setting the Scene
Remember that river located at the northwestern part of Arvaikheer? Well, we visited it again. During our spring break/quarantine, Valerie and I went for a hike to get some fresh air. As the sun was beginning to set, we reached the frozen river which had begun to melt the week before. No longer entirely frozen nor consisting of solely solid ice, the river made for a puzzle, an adventure in whether our feet would fall through the ice. As we tried to figure out how to jump across a small side-stream that was already flowing, we ran into three boys, also attempting to solve the same puzzle. As we braved the stream together and jumped across, our toes accidentally dipping into the cold water, we successfully created the start of a certain solidarity that throughout our short adventure, turned into a friendship. We raced along the river, jumped on the ice, watched horses on the riverbank, and had a little photoshoot. The evening ended as the boys continued up the river. As they faded into the distance, ever few steps one would turn around to scream “bye, saikhan amraarai”. What started out as a hike to cheer up, ended with us being cheerful and glad to be living in Mongolia.
Children across the world have the same playful innocence and ability to enjoy themselves despite differences between people. Meeting new adults in Mongolia requires speaking; they want to know about our lives in the US and how we like Mongolia now. Yet children are another breed. Occasionally they ask questions like “how did you get to Mongolia?” (by airplane! woahhhh); they’re fine just running and playing, talking quickly at us in such excited voices we know it’s okay if we don’t understand because they just want to play, but children also have the preceptiveness to pick up on our language abilities and slow down their speaking, using simple language, when they truly want us to understand them. They find the joy in the little things in life and don’t judge a foreigner in their country. If I’m ever feeling down in Mongolia, I know seeing a cute child will cheer me up right away. Children truly make the abroad experience worthwhile.