Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First month in KR

So I realize I have been here over a month and have only posted one blog, so first of all I would like to apologize and let everyone know that I am doing well and loving my life in Kyrgyzstan! I don’t have regular access to internet at the moment so please be patient as I post these blogs!
Just a snap shot of life here; I am staying with an lovely family about an hour outside Bishkek, who have 3 daughters (ages 5,13, 15), a brother (age 20), a kitten, a puppy and a guard dog. The daughters know a few words in English, but for the most part there is a lot of broken Russian and gestures used to get points across. I am proud to say that I have managed to get some of the town gossip despite my inability to form complex sentences! What can I say, we all have our strengths and I like to call mine inter-personal skills!
As for the living situation things are fine- I hesitate to say great because it has hit 45 degrees C (over 100 degree F) more than once and there is no AC. Plus there are regular blackouts through out Kyrgyzstan so I’m never quite sure when the lights are going to work…but to counteract all that the house I’m staying in is comfortable! I have my own room with a twin bed, desk and a wardrobe so I can have some privacy. Just outside my room is the living room where they have a couple of couches and a tv. The shows are all in Russian and I have spent several evenings watching a Russian soap opera about some blind redhead with my host sisters, its pretty intense! Anyway next to the living room is the dining area and bedroom for the kids. The parents sleep on the floor in the living room, I can’t tell if they usually sleep in there or if they have given me their room.
But that is basically it for the house, it is fairly modest, the kitchen is outside and in the back of the garden) is the outhouse—it’s a squatter. Despite the fact that I have been here for over a month I still don’t like going to the bathroom out there!
The food has been fine, I have eaten a lot of soup, rice and noodles. A tomato and cucumber salad is served with most meals along with homemade bread and jam. There has been a lot of simple carbs and oils in every meal and despite the fact that I walk about 4 miles a day I still don’t think I have lost weight which says something about how rich the food is! Right now is melon season, and the streets are just lined with watermelon stands! It’s been so nice eating watermelon everyday!
A typical week day for me begins at about 7 am when I wake up, have breakfast, get dressed and leave for about a 25 minute walk to class. I usually meet a friend about half way there and we walk the rest of the way together. From 8:30 to 12 is language lessons, which is hosted at a Turkish woman’s home, during the lesson there is a lot of interactive learning where we interview people around the house and play little language games to help us practice our vocabulary and grammar. There are 5 trainees in this language group which is big enough for a diversity of ideas but small enough to receive personal attention. My Russian feels like it is coming very slowly but my instructor has given me very positive feedback and is constantly reminding us that Russian is the 2nd hardest language to learn- right behind Chinese. I don’t know if I believe it, but it makes me feel better so I’ll take it!
After language lessons I go home for about an hour so I can eat lunch and grab some materials for the next lesson which is either technical training, cultural training, or medical/safety training. One of the technical training assignments is that we work with a non-profit organization. The NPO that my partner and I have been assigned to work with is an organization who supports the Tajik refugees in the local community. So far we have grammatically cleaned up a brochure, have started translating another pamphlet and we are planning on giving a training session on how to use Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint. We only meet with them once a week but so far it has been very educational working with them.
We are usually done with lessons around 4 pm, from there I either go play with the other volunteers or go home where I decompress, have dinner, take a shower and call it a day. Usually by 10:30 pm I am exhausted and falling asleep!
So that’s life here in Kyrgyzstan! I love hearing about what’s going on in your lives so feel free to email me and let me know how you are doing!
Some highlights so far-
- I bought a cell phone so I have spoken to my parents a couple of times!
- I cooked dinner with a friend for his host mother- from scratch and without a recipe!!!
- I carried a bucket of water from the stream outside our house so I could help with chores
- I went to a hot-spring about an hour away from where I’m staying- the view was beautiful
- I almost got squashed by a herd of cows when walking home one day
- Sharing Russian beers with friends
- Exploring a bazaar in downtown Bishkek- it was 20 sq. km!
- Riding in marshukas (the public transportation) with two people for every seat on the bus!
- Watching the sun set on the Tien Shan mountains

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