Saturday, May 28, 2016

Final day in UB for now

Khongorzul with the new blood pressure cuff and stethoscope.
Today was filled with the happiness of meeting an old friend coupled with anticipation for our trip north. Khongorzul, a reindeer herder from the East taiga who has just completed medical school, stopped by our apartment in Ulaanbaatar to pick up a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff donated by Nomadicare.

Khongorzul taking Sas's blood pressure.
Of course, Khongorzul immediately tried out her new gifts and took Sas's blood pressure.  During her visit, Sas and Chimedee and Khongorzul caught up on news of family and friends, reminisced about past visits to the taiga, and talked about the future.

Afterwards, Sas and Khongorzul discussed Nomadicare's seven-year health database of the reindeer herders, pointing out various health issues that seemed to appear frequently such as dental problems, high blood pressure, and joint and back pain. When riding their horses herders sometimes fall off. Since they don't wear helmets, they are  at high risk for concussions. I asked how often the herders see a doctor - I was thinking about the regular check-ups we have in the US - and Khongorzul laughed and said that they only go when they are really sick.

Looking at the health database.
 Sas mentioned later to me that it may also depend on the location of the camp. In the summer, reindeer herders generally migrate farther away from the sum (county) center where the doctors are located. Khongorzul also told us that the oldest active reindeer herder now in the East taiga is 62. When they get older, most reindeer herders move to the sum center. In the West taiga, one elder woman is still living a nomadic life at 78 despite being blind. Khongorzul would like to practice medicine back in the taiga but currently there is no open position.

Watching the trailer for "Migration"

Sas also showed Khongorzul the trailer for "Migration;" she is the first reindeer herder to see the film. It was very moving, so much so that tears were shed. In particular, she loved the Tuvan music. It is possible that Khongorzul will be in the taiga during the time we are there. Good! We look forward to another reunion.

We are nearly packed. Tomorrow, Chimedee, my translator Chuka and our driver Munkhuu will leave in the morning for Murun by car. Sas and her camera person Urangoo will fly. On Monday we will go to Tsagaan Nuur, again by car. On Tuesday we drive to a meeting place for our horses and with the help of wranglers will travel to the spring camp of the reindeer herders.

Last night Sas and I had a very nice dinner with the resident director of the the American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS),  Marc Tasse. Sas and Marc discussed possibilities for showing "Migration" and "Ceremony" when we return to Ulaanbaatar. Summer is a busy time and several university groups will be coming to Mongolia on study tours. These groups get much assistance with their in-country travel from ACMS. There is a complete list of seminar topics on their web site.

This evening we will had a quick dinner with our team. Tomorrow early, off to the taiga!
Sas, Marc and Jeannie
Food shopping - rice and noodles.

Fresh fruit and vegetables.

Just for fun, a gold BMW.

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