Thursday, April 24, 2014

Love transcends language bar

A Mongolian and Kiwi couple living in Golden Bay have literally created their own love language.

Golden Bay born Zoe Leetch met her future husband Enkhnasan Chuluunbaatar in 2008 on a Mongolian goldmine on the northern edge of the Gobi Desert. The pair, who then worked together on the mine, taught each other English and Mongolian, and eventually created their own unique language blend of the two languages.

These days they live in Golden Bay with their young son Tushinbayar Enkhnasan. Enkhnasan, who is known as Nasa, is now a busy sheep shearer, who came second in the intermediate section of the Golden Bay A&P Show sheep shearing champs. It took some time for Nasa, who grew up in a family of nomadic herders, to become a Kiwi sheep shearer.

Leetch, who had always had a curiosity about Mongolia thanks to movies such as The Weeping Camel, was working as an artist in Wellington when she was offered an administrative job on the goldmine by a friend of her father's at short notice. She had a weekend to mull it over, and decided she couldn't pass up the opportunity.

"I went over to work at the goldmine, to do admin at the gold site, which included keeping tracks of fuel records. Nasa's job, part of it, was refuelling machines," she said.

Leetch said she was a "a bit of a novelty there" as they'd never had a young Kiwi woman working at the goldmine before.

Nasa had seen foreign women before, but never talked to them. So he thought I would be different, not just a human like him, said Leetch.

On the first night she was there, three people woke up her future husband to tell him a woman with ears that stuck out had come to work at the mine. He eventually went to check out Zoe's ears.

The two ended up working together in the truck and the rest is (quite romantic) history.

Leetch was one of 30 people living at the mine in yurts together, three of whom were Kiwis.

She worked on the mine for four seasons, for seven months of the year. At the end of each season Leetch would go back to Nasa's home, a yurt, to spend time with his nomadic herder family, then she would head back to New Zealand. She says she spent longer and longer with his family.

They were married in 2011 in a Mongolia summer wedding that was attended by Nasa's family and Zoe's twin brother Pax.

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