Sunday, September 28, 2008

Busy busy me!

So since I've been in Jalal Abad I have hardly had a chance to work!!! The previous weekend was spent in Osh at a women's leadership conference that was organized by a volunteer. The whole conference was in Russian so I didn't attend the sessions but there were 40 young Kyrgyz women that did. From what I could tell, the conference went really well. There were some really interesting topics covered including; women in government positions, business women, human trafficking, bride kidnapping and HIV. That is really just the tip of the iceberg too, it was a four day conference so these young women walked away with a lot of information.

Initially being in Osh was so shocking because almost everyone I was in contact with spoke English and in Jalal Abad I have yet to find a large population of English speakers. Most of these English speakers were young women who were attending the conference. They were all so energized, motivated and excited about learning English that I was asked multiple times if I was available to meet with them regularly so they could work on their conversational skills. I was amazed at their eagerness and readiness to learn!

Eventually Sunday came around and the conference ended. After I helped put together the last coffee break and watched the closing ceromony I packed up my rice bag and by four o'clock I was at the marshuka stand. There was already a bus waiting to fill up so I paid the fare (just under $3) and waited for the bus to pull out. That took significantly longer than I expected and I was actually sitting on the bus for over an hour before we finally embarked for Jalal Abad. While I was waiting I watched life at the bus station slowly go by; there were numerous stands selling juice and snacks to travelers, drivers sitting around gossiping as they wathced their rides fill up, people jumping on and off buses with their plastic bags filled to the brim with god knows what!

Slowly seats began to fill , and as I continued to wait I was entertained by the sellers and hagglers that would jump on the bus to get money out of the travelers. The first peddler that came a long was a woman who just poked her head into the bus trying to sell apples, then came the Imam (a muslim priest). As soon as he stepped onto the bus people started rummaging through their bags for change and after he collected money from everyone on the bus he said a prayer for safe traveling. Before he jumped off the bus he looked down and gave me a toothless smile, I felt blessed.

Then came the middle aged woman selling newspapers, she patiently stood at the front of the bus with a newspaper and read out a couple of the headlines in attempts to spark the attention of her audience, no buyers. As she got off a young man poked his head in the bus and wave some dill around, when he saw he had no buyers he continued to the next bus. Then right before we left an older lady got on the bus and walked through the middle isle of the marshuka begging for extra change, eventually she wondered off and almost immediatly we pulled out of the bus station on our way to Jalal Abad.

The drive that evening was beautiful, the sun was setting behind us and the hills and mountails were golden with the light hitting the dry grassy hills. More than once we had to slow down and maneuver through heards of cows and sheep who were followed by shepards on their hourses. It was a beautiful way to end an awesome weekend!

The following Monday I was hoping to pick up work again and really start getting things accomplished, but I had not got two days of work in before the end of Ramadan rolled around, so I was granted another day off! I never thought I would say it but I just want to get to work! Oh well!

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