Katieholder’s Blog

H1N1 and other news

Well, the last 2 weeks here have been dominated by the growing outbreak of H1N1, or Swine Flu. About 3 weeks ago, the official count of cases was 8, then a week later it was 150, and last week it topped approximately 700. All secondary schools in the country were closed last week and continue to be closed this week. Universities are still open, but according to my sitemate Alona, no one is allowed inside them without a facemask on.

My office is still open and I doubt we’ll close or anything like that unless one of us gets sick. Everyone here is wearing masks to keep from getting sick, but the Peace Corps nurse, Amy, told us that all the masks are doing is holding the virus up to your nose and mouth, making it easier to get sick. Therefore, I am not wearing the mask my co-workers gave me and none of the other PCV’s in my area are wearing theirs either. It’s not that we’re trying to be obstinate, it’s just that you don’t need masks with proper handwashing, not touching your face, covering your mouth and nose during sneezing or coughs, etc.

The PCV’s here are getting flu shots this month in Ulaanbaatar and the M20’s are probably getting another round of other shots as well. The M20’s are all coming to UB for 6 days for In Service Training (IST) where we also bring one counterpart (co-worker) with us. I talked with my supervisor on Friday about who I wanted to come with me and we will talk with my choice to see if she wants to join me. This will be my first time staying in UB overnight, since after I was sworn in, I was immediately brought to Erdenet. I’m excited to not only be able to explore the city more, but also to see all my friends again.

Halloween was on Saturday and since it’s not really celebrated in this country, there wasn’t a lot to distinguish it from any other Saturday. Alona, Dao and I went shopping and my goal for the day was to buy a warm hat that covered my ears. I found 2 hats and have been wearing one of them ever since. Unfortunately, since my ears are now warm, the numbness has moved to my nose and mouth. The solution is to cover your entire face (except your eyes) with a warm scarf (see attached picture). The temps today are supposed to be from a low of -19C (-2F) to a high of -11C (+12F). It’s not too bad since it’s not snowing, not windy and the sun is out, but it’s still definitely cold.

We were shopping in the black market Saturday and I found some HUGE fox fur hats. They were super expensive, but they looked exactly like the big fur hat George wore on Seinfeld which makes me want one even more. To compensate myself, I bought a fake fur hat that I will begin sporting shortly. That one makes me look like an extra from the movie “Fargo”, earflaps and all. I’m definitely against fur in the states–I don’t think it’s necessary since we have access to good coats that use other high-tech materials. Here, however, fur keeps you warm and it’s more necessary since we don’t get good quality clothing imported in.

I will be spending Thanksgiving in UB with my M20 friends since it falls during IST. I’m so happy about that I don’t even know how to explain it. I have to think of a side dish or desert to make….any ideas?

Well, that’s all for now! I miss all of you! Enjoy your amenities!

‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.’


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  1. * Mom and Dad says:

    I am so glad you’ll be in UB with friends for Thanksgiving! I hated to think of you alone in Erdenet for the holiday. The temps there dropped like nobody’s business didn’t they? Keep warm first and think fashion last. I want you coming back to the US with all body parts intact. We look forward to hearing your voice. When might that be?

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 5 months ago
    • * katieholder says:

      I’m going to come to work Saturday morning and try to call you at 10 a.m. my time, 9 p.m. (Friday) your time. I always think of fashion last, so don’t worry about me losing any digits due to sacrificing them to the cold. Mom, I responded to your message on Facebook, so check your account. I need to make a side dish or dessert to bring to Thanksgiving, so if you have any suggestions, they would definitely be appreciated.

      | Reply Posted 9 years, 5 months ago
  2. * rob says:

    Banana pudding or heath bar cake. love ya, rob.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 5 months ago

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