Friends of ours are moving into their ger while they renovate their house, and when they invited us to come help put it up, we were all about it.
Warning: The following is a highly technical, very scientific account of a ger-raising. Apologies in advance for the readers I will lose along the way.
Step 1: Put the floor down and the lattice walls up.
Step 2: Put the center roof piece thingy together by some dark magic that happened in the 2 minutes you were in the house playing with the cat.
Step 3: Gather your roof poles.
Step 3b: Attempt to balance one end of the pointy roof pole on the lattice wall while guiding the other into the tiny hole in the center thing. But the pole is really heavy, so if you are short, it’s basically like playing the world’s worst game of reverse jenga. And if you’re inside the ger, think dodgeball but with heavy pieces of wood falling from the sky.
Step 3c: Do one pole for every five the strong Mongol guy next to you does. When he tells you you’re doing a good job, use this as an opportunity to dance around in circles and take pictures of your audience.
Step 3d: When all the poles are in place, back off and let the Mongolian guys figure out where the foreigners went wrong.
Step 4: Pull a piece of canvas over the roof of the ger. Practice your sailor’s knots. Or, if you are not a sailor, tie bunny ears and pray.
Step 5: Brief interlude in which you are distracted by fiendishly adorable children. Don’t be hard on yourself. It’s a weakness we all struggle with.
Step 6: Work in teams to carry giant walls of sheep. Also know as massive pieces of felt; wrap them around the ger. Stand on your toes and cling desperately to the side of the ger to hold the felt in place while more things get tied to themselves. Make sure the felt isn’t flush to the floor because moisture or something.
Step 6b: At this point, your ger should look like a really big, naked sheep. Hugging the fuzziness is generally frowned upon and doesn’t smell great either.
Step 7: Let the people who knows what they’re doing…do stuff. Like put the big, circular roof felt on.
Step 8: Watch other people pull a canvas thing over top of all of this. Belt it down, and help pull the belts tight. At some point while you’re on the other side of the ger pulling on things, a blue something-or-other will appear at the bottom of the ger (more dark magic).
Step 9: Carry the stove in.
Step 10: Tadaa!
Step 10b: Eat pizza.
Amish raise barns, we raise gers. Another thing to cross off my Mongol bucket list!