I wrote this yesterday but I had some trouble posting so here it is now.
So, the Flaming Cliffs are maybe 20 meters high or something. They're bright orange sandstone formations, carved out by the powerful winds that sweep across the Gobi. I got really neat pictures of wind patterns in the sandstone. The rock crumbles into its constituent sand grains and dust if you scratch at it, and we did just that in search of dinosaur bones. We had with us Ariunchimuk, a paleontologist with the natural history museum or something like that. She gave us each little metal scrapers and paint brushes to dig into the rock. I sat there digging designs in the side of the cliff for a while then wandered out away from the cliff itself, looking at things on the ground. Besides the bright orange sandstone there were also little pieces of granite covering the ground. Especially impressed by the lovely dark green granite, I picked up several pieces of it to bring home. I've collected a lot of rocks on this trip. Maybe a hundred meters from the cliffs themselves we found what I think were protoceratops bones, first a rib then some other bones that were unidentifiable because they crumbled to dust when we tried to uncover them. A ways away we looked at the top of a skull, just level with the ground. We didn't make any effort to uncover that further, instead we buried it and marked the spot with rocks so scientists can come back some other time for real work. I did manage to procure a piece of bone for myself; it's very tiny, maybe fingernail sized, and very white and.. well, it's a bone. I saw it lying on top of the ground when I sat down near the skull and rib site. It's pretty solid; it hadn't been weakened like some of the unluckier specimens. I don't know why that is.
I found cinnamon today in a big fancy supermarket. It might be the only cinnamon in town. I am pleased. I bought it for 85 cents. My host mother has offered to embroider my bluejeans, so as soon as I leave here I'm going to our student hostel to get the jeans I didn't bring on the homestay (I tried to pack light) so she can do her thing. I expect it to be very very swank, although she might want to wash the jeans before she sets to work as they are filthy. Tomorrow we make apple pie.
It's the website of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, the Communist party that ran the country for 70 years and runs it again now. The "Action Program" pages are especially interesting/entertaining. As I will soon be engaged full time in researching these parties, I probably shouldn't be making such judgmental statements, but this web page is so saccharine my teeth hurt. From the "Nature and Environment" page: "...more extensive work will be done to combat the Brandt's Vole." - that means dumping chemicals that have long been banned in the United States and that killed a child in the Mongolian countryside last year on the steppe to kill a rodent that's really not such a serious problem. I could go on, but.. oh, here: "The problem of Ulaanbaatar city's household waste will be resolved in a comprehensive manner..." - Cool, let's do that today. Alright, back to scientific analysis. I'm going to go buy a sausage, then get my jeans.