Mongolian Consul Visits Borrego
Last updated 2/26/2019 at 9:53am
"Sain baina uu, Khatagtai, Noyod oo Mongoliig surtalchilsan enekhuu uzesgelen." The rich Mongolian words rolled out of the Consul General's mouth as smoothly as Chef Tom and Pam's rich brown "mutton and marmot" gravy rolled into our mouths.
The event was "Beneath The Eternal Blue Sky," a photographic journey at the Borrego Art Institute on Jan. 26, celebrating an unforgettable trip to Mongolia last July by three Borregans, a professional photographer and a small group from San Diego.
The evening drew over 125 people interested in all things Mongolia including colorful and magnificent photographs of life in Mongolia by professional photographer Nick Agelidis, a narrated trip through Mongolia via his photographs and a meeting with Mongolian Consul General Galbadral Enkhtur and Vice Consul Sukhbaatar Chuluunbaatar, dignitaries housed in San Francisco at the Mongolian Embassy. Invited by Martin Kruming, the visionary catalyst of the Mongolia trip, they made a special trip down to Borrego Springs in order to attend this event and were truly impressed with the uncanny Borrego Springs – Mongolia connections, the fabulous photographs and their warm reception at the BAI.
Also in attendance were the two former Borrego Springs High School students who traveled with us to Mongolia as tourists, but also on a Rotary Interact service mission to deliver supplies to a school in Ulaanbaatar. Karen Garcia is now at University of California San Diego and Elizabeth Torres is at Point Loma Nazarene University. They were honored with a signed copy of Nick Agelidis' book, Mongolia: Beneath The Eternal Blue Sky, donated by our local Rotary Club.
Quiet chuckles came over the Consul and Vice Consul as they gazed at the creative and adorable Mongolian yurt (or ger) village built by the Borrego Springs Elementary students under the guidance of talented BAI Art Teacher, Leslie Duncan. Students had also created colorfully decorated arrows, a la Genghis Khan, for sale at $5 each to raise funds for the Art Program. Elementary student Justin Acuna gave a historically and culturally accurate account of the arrows and how and why they were used by Genghis Khan and his warriors. Very impressive.
Mark Jorgensen, retired Superintendent of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, made a special appearance and spoke affectionately of the long time partnership our park has had with Ikh Nart Reserve in Mongolia. He is thrilled that our group was able to travel to Ikh Nart and stay in their yurts at Red Rock Campground. Interest in Ikh Nark has generated donations to the Mongolian Park for motorcycles and supplies. ABDSP Archaeologist Robin Connors was in attendance, announcing she is leading an archaeology trip to Ikh Nart and if interested, contact her.
Hospitality, friendships and creativity were flowing in abundance, accompanied by scrumptious Mongolian fare culturally researched and artfully prepared by the incomparable Chef Tom and Pam. Traditional Mongolian dishes were served with respectful substitutes: "airag," fermented mare's milk, was actually rice pudding. "Khorkhog," mutton roasted with marmot, was actually raised short ribs with yam. "Byaslag," dried cheese with tomato and cucumbers, was just that. It was all fabulously devoured and taught us an appreciation and understanding of the diverse food groups in Mongolia.
"Beneath the Eternal Blue Sky" left us all with a deeper cultural understanding of a colorful and amazing country whose proud people love sharing their language, culture and people with us.
As one visitor from out of state remarked, "Who could have ever imagined that this little rural town of Borrego Springs could have such culture, art, wordly connections and sophisticated people?" Yes, we are that little town.
Wait, wait there's more! On Feb. 11 at 2 p.m. in our beautiful new library, there will be a ceremony celebrating a city/town-partnership between Borrego Springs and the Mongolian city of Khovd in western Mongolia. The Consul General, who was here on Jan. 26, is from Khovd and is very excited about this partnership. He will be here along with eight other Mongolians for the Partnership Agreement event. Please join us.
Until then, "bayartai" – goodbye and "mal su reg tar gan." You'll have to attend the event on Feb. 11 to learn what this means!