Midsummer

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Here in Washington, Seattleites make a big deal out of the summer solstice. Just last weekend, I met up with a friend in Ballard to catch a bite to eat and browse through the local shops, and we inadvertently ran across the solstice parade route. The whole day was very Seattle, and very unintentionally so. Coming up this week is the Fourth of July, which of course is a big holiday nationwide.

You know who else has big holidays during the summer? Mongolia. (How’s that for a segue?) As I’m sure everyone would be both bored and annoyed by yet another update on all the little and big things that we are trying to accomplish right now, let’s talk about Naadam instead.

Naadam is a Mongolian festival/holiday (how does one differentiate between the two?) that is quite the big deal. From what I understand, Naadam is on par with Thanksgiving and Christmas in the US, maybe both holidays rolled into one. (Tsagaan Sar is another major Mongolian holiday that coincides with the lunar new year.) Naadam celebrates the “three manly sports” of Mongolia: wrestling, horse racing, and archery.

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I am no expert in any form of wrestling, but I assume that Mongolian wrestling has its own unique form. I know that there is a very specific uniform for wrestlers that includes an open vest to prove that only men are participating, not women.

In a country where horses outnumber the people thirteen to one, horse races seem only logical. Also, horses are very important in Mongolia and are given as honoring gifts and prized for what they offer. Mongolian nomads milk their horses, and fermented mare’s milk–airag–is a common enough beverage–or so I’ve heard. Beyond historic precedence, I do not know if there is a specific reason to include archery, but I like that it’s one of the three most valued sports in the country.

If I understand Naadam correctly, it consists of similar festivals held all across Mongolia. In the countryside, a naadam is a way for nomadic families to come together and enjoy time in an extended community. In the cities, the naadam size reflects the size of the local population. That is, attending a naadam festival in Ulaanbaatar would be a significantly bigger ordeal than one in a rural area.

Sound interesting? I found a video on BBC that features a Mongolian naadam. You should check it out!

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June is busting out all over…

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…which means we are in definite crunch mode for raising support. We have sent out a lot of letters and have even more to send out and are making calls,etc. (If you’re reading this, maybe you’d like to help us out? There’s a link in our sidebar if you are interested!)

This mobile at the doctor's office is more pleasant to look at than Eric's sickly hue following his injections. :-/

This mobile at the doctor’s office is more pleasant to look at than Eric’s sickly hue following his injections. :-/

Beyond financial stuff, we are preparing in other ways for this upcoming move. Unlike yours truly, Eric did not spend his childhood in the tropics, so he has to get caught up on some vaccinations. Of course, we all know what that means for him. At least the last time we went to the doctor’s office, we were prepared for the worst and had eaten breakfast sans coffee beforehand. We even brought our own water bottle. It helped, but we still had to wait awhile for Eric’s color to come back before we could leave. There is still one more round of vaccinations to go, but aside from that, we both have a clear bill of health!

Pippin helping Eric read in bed.

Pippin helping Eric read in bed.

Our initial plans for our cats need to be revised at this point, which is definitely stressful. I mean, how can you look at a cat this adorable and not want the best for him, right? He’s a sweetie–as is his “sister”–and we know that an international move will be way too much for them to handle. All the same, it’s hard to leave them behind. I would be lying if I said it didn’t make me sad. (Note: we fully understand why the original plans fell through, so this isn’t a passive aggressive comment. We get it. 🙂 )

Thinking about saying goodbye to everyone stateside is overwhelming as well. There are so many people that we’re going to miss while away. Furthermore, knowing that we will be missing important milestones and gatherings like birthdays, holidays, graduations, first steps, and more, brings a quiet tide of mourning. Alongside the joy of new growth and beginnings is a kernel of sorrow for what was. Although we are excited for this next step, it is still so hard to make this transition. Dear family and friends reading this, please remember us in this season!

We love you all and appreciate you more than words can express!

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