“You gotta wait a minute, wait a minute, Mr. Postman, deliver the letter, the sooner the better!” -The Beatles
The sky explodes with sound as the three F-16’s streak overhead leaving colored contrails of red, white, and blue in their wake. Awestruck I drop my axe next to the pile of wood and look skyward over the roof of my ger. The jets are followed by a lumbering cargo plane and as its shadow covers my hashaa a hatch opens and a brown box descends to earth, letting loose a gigantic parachute bearing the stars and stripes as it lands with a thud at my feet. A helicopter whirls in place over my head, a cable falls to ground and a lone solider slides down to stand in front me. Red, white, and blue fireworks are shot off from somewhere beyond the mountains. He produces a clipboard, “Package, sign here.”
“Sign here.” I’m roused from my stupor as the mailman repeats himself again in Mongolian and pushes the clipboard across the counter, tapping the paper with a pen. The fanfare and fantastical scenarios often play out in my head every time I hear I’ve got mail waiting for me at the post office. I always feel like a little kid waiting to open his presents when I stand on one side of the counter staring at the mail on the windowsill I surely know is for me. Waiting anxiously for Gombojamts, our towns no-nonsense, and only postal employee to relinquish my prize to me. He’ll often, as if sensing my eagerness, test my patience. “Watch my room for me, I’ll be back.” Taking back the now signed clipboard he walks around from the counter and exits the post office. Leaving me alone to stare at my parcel or letter still resting on the windowsill. After reading (or trying to) every poster on the wall multiple times and obsessively fantasizing about what my mail could contain he finally strolls back in and calmly sits down at his chair. Finally after some casual rustling with papers he’ll push across the counter what I came for. I quickly thank him and snatch it up and bolt out the door.
I owe much, and am very grateful for the Mongolians I have met in this country. Since my arrival they have shown me guidance, generosity, love, and at the least have tolerated me. I would not have made it long without their unquestioning assistance. Though my real gratitude is to those of you back home, who often send me your written or packaged support. Whether its news of life back in the states or a package of American foodstuffs (Velvetta never tasted so good) it gives me a little slice of back home, lifts my morale and spirits, and reminds me of the life I’ll return to. So to all my family and friends, thank you for all the love, support, and well wishes. Your responses are coming, I can assure you, Gombojomts is even more finicky with outgoing mail, so hang tight! All of the Mongolian kindness would count for nothing if I didn’t know I had all of you behind me. Being so isolated, in one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, knowing I haven’t been forgotten and getting so much love from an ocean away, means the world to me. I could never express it enough.