It’s been hella hot here in northern Chui. In the first week of June alone, we’ve already cleared 90 degrees several times. It’s going to be a long summer, I think. Though I have a huge window in my room, only a tiny part – the fortochka – opens to let clean air in. I took to bringing a fan into my room at night; it might be noisy, but at least the buzz drowns out the chatty rooster and donkey.
I hear those animals, along with the family of chicks that live in my backyard, when I sit out on my family’s tapchan. The tapchan is a big metal deck, maybe 8 feet by 8 feet, with an opaque plastic roof and sheets that billow over two of the walls. We sometimes eat dinner out there, sitting on toshok cushions as we sip soup and pour homemade strawberry jam on bread. On the weekends, I bring my pillow and a book and spend hours reading, enjoying the feel of the sun through the curtain without burning up or getting burned.
The other night I took my host apa up on her advice to sleep out on the tapchan. My host sisters and I had quite the slumber party out there – they were fascinated by my headlamp and sleeping bag, and my 11 year old sister Albina told stories of the chupacabra (a mythical creature with origins in Costa Rica that, for some reason, my family obsesses over and is convinced lives in Kyrgyzstan). I think she intended to scare my younger sister Nurai, who is only three; but in the process she freaked herself out, and propped up a table against the gap in the railings where the stairs go. In the morning, my back was a little sore, and I was annoyed with the rooster screaming from 15 feet away – overall, though, my night camping on the tapchan was a success. On a day like today, when the temperature crawled above 90 before noon, you can bet I won’t be holed up in my room any more than I need to be.