Small Scenes of Central Asia 7

 

I spent the second half of February on an epic roadtrip around Jalal-Abad oblast; the official objective of the trip was to follow up with teachers who participated in my summer methodology camp, but the unofficial objective of the trip was to hang out with the teachers who came to my camp, meet their families, and eat great food.

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After landing at the Osh International Airport and being shuffled into a taxi, the little girl sitting on her mom’s lap held up her hands to pray – her gesture prompted everyone else in the car, myself included, to fold their hands over their face and whisper “oomin” before setting out for Jalal-Abad.

10 months have passed since I last saw my host family in Jalal-Abad, and I was nervous that time had worn away at the goofiness I shared with my siblings or the stories I could share with my host mom. It felt like I had been gone for a few weeks, not a few months, when I stepped through the gate. Nazgul and I talked for hours over pomegranate candies and green tea while Barsbek showed off his new math skills (he can add and subtract, as long as there are plenty of zeros) and Aliya danced around and pointed to her nose on command.

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The drive from Jalal-Abad to Kochkor-Ata was generally familiar to me, and the stretch from Kochkor-Ata to Kerben recalled vague memories from my trip last summer, but from Kerben to Ala-Buka was entirely new terrain for me. I had the front seat of the taxi, which is my favorite place to be on trips to new places, because it affords the best view. I watched as our car hugged the Uzbek border, which wasn’t identifiable as such by a wall or a fence, but by a deep trench and the occasional sign warning that someone (from which side?) will shoot upon crossing.

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When I first got to Kyrgyzstan, I didn’t have the classic “what the heck are these people saying” moment, since my host family spoke Russian and preferred to speak to me in Russian until my Kyrgyz was good enough to say anything of real interest. So it was a very bizarre experience, almost two years in to Peace Corps, to stay with a family that spoke no Kyrgyz and no Russian – only Uzbek. Granted, Kyrgyz and Uzbek are pretty similar (yakhsy v. jakshy for “good”), but most of the time when my host’s kids were talking to me (read: at me) I could decipher maybe only 10% of what they were saying. It felt totally normal to fall asleep next to 8-year old Mahlie while she cut up an apple and laughed at an Uzbek soap opera, though.

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My host in Ala-Buka, Farhad, sat with me for hours drinking cup after cup of green tea. He asked me some of the most thoughtful questions I’ve heard since coming to Kyrgyzstan, and his enthusiasm for teaching, bringing together his community, and public service (he’s one of the rare men in his profession, teaching at a public secondary school, and he works for free as a deputy to his town council) was inspiring.

Also a joy to spend time with was Farhad’s wife, Moxidil, who used to be a teacher but now works at a café in downtown Ala-Buka to make more money. Both days I spent in Ala-Buka, Farhad took me to his wife’s café for some of the tastiest (and cheapest) shashlyk I’ve eaten in Kyrgyzstan.

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A man named Erkin (the fifth Erkin I met in the Ala-Buka area) joined us for lunch one afternoon. Erkin fought in the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980s; and though he was injured twice, he had only positive things to say about his experience. He talked at me in Tajik for a few sentences, proud to show what he learned on the battlefield (it wasn’t clear to me whether he picked the Tajik up from his Soviet comrades or the men he was fighting). Erkin serves on the town council with Farhad, and he also had some really beautiful observations about world peace and international friendship. It’s connections like these that make the stress of Peace Corps worth it, really.

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Exploring Kyrgyzstan: Sary Chelek

Many Kyrgyzstanis describe Issyk-Kul, the world’s second largest alpine lake, as the Pearl of Kyrgyzstan. I totally get it – it’s hard not to be enchanted by the beaches and the beautiful views afforded on a clear day. But I found another pearl: Sary Chelek.

Sary Chelek, yellow bucket in Kyrgyz, is another alpine lake tucked high in the mountains of central Jalal-Abad oblast. I figured its name came from the color of trees in autumn or the reflection of clouds during a storm, but no, yellow bucket is a little more literal. People who live in the forests near Sary Chelek have been making pails from juniper tree wood forever, thanks to the wood’s remarkable resilience to water. They’ve been using these pails to carry ayran (read: Kyrgyz yogurt) for just as long. To control the temperature, and so keep the ayran from spoiling, people would set the buckets in the cool waters of the beautiful lake conveniently situated in their mountain forest. Something about the yogurt and the water turned the buckets yellow every time. When they’d descend to sell their ayran in the bazaars of the villages at the base of the mountain, they’d sell the yogurt straight from the yellow bucket – and so eventually, shoppers came to associate the yellow bucket with those coming from the alpine lake. Hence, Sary Chelek.

This place was not easy to reach, at least not from Bishkek. My trusty travel companion Hannah and I set out from Bishkek to Toktogul, where we crashed the night with our volunteer buddies. We woke up early to catch the 7:00am marshrutka heading to Jalal-Abad, which we rode until Tash-Komur (translates as Rock-Coal, probably because the area is heavily mined for coal). At Tash-Komur, we planned to wait an hour or so to catch the marshrutka coming from Jalal-Abad that would take us the rest of the way.

While waiting for the Jalal-Abad marshrutka, Hannah set out in search of water and something sugary – she came back with both, but she just happened to be waving from the passenger seat of a semi-truck. Arlan, the driver, was cheerful and chatty for the two hours we spent heading toward Chatkal. Arlan insisted that we talk to his friend in Bishkek who knows English well, something that usually means the guy on the other line studied in university and can volley a few basic questions; so wowzas when I picked up the phone and lo, it’s Ulan on the other line, and he speaks English perfectly and runs a tourism company that helps tourists going from Bishkek to Sary Chelek. He promises to call his buddy Sovietbek, whose dad runs a guesthouse in Arkyt and who can help us figure out our transportation to the lake. A miracle!

our driver alman

Meet Alman

being pensive in a semi

pretty tash komur lake

Views from around Tash-Komur

It takes longer than expected to get from Tash-Komur to Arkyt, probably because we’re going uphill in a massive semi-truck – it’s fine, though, because we’re chatting about Arlan’s family, our work in Kyrgyzstan. It was a little awkward when he pointed out some phallic rock formations (not so different from those in Cappadocia), but I maintained total innocence of the suggested shape of the rocks. Our time with Arlan came to an abrupt end, at the point where the road splits; fortunately, at just the moment we were hopping down from the semi-truck, Alman managed to flag down a passing marshrutka. This wasn’t just any marshrutka, but one that happened to have been chartered by a bunch of ejes from Bazar Korgon, one of whom had worked with a Peace Corps volunteer in the past. These ladies kindly let us on their bus for free, in exchange for sweet words and selfies with their kids and humoring them about me as a potential bride for someone’s son. They invited us to stay the night with them at a relative’s house at the base of the mountain; while we declined this offer, we did hang out and drink tea (an all-inclusive phrase that means consume a huge quantity of cookies, bread, watermelon, apricots, tomatoes, kymys, and did I say cookies?) for a while.

on the road

(Not the aforementioned phallic rocks)

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The ejes^^ Thank you Magripa Eje, the woman sitting on my left

Sovietbek followed through on his promise to help us out and picked us up from the eje’s house. He took us just past the gates of the Sary Chelek Bio-Reserve, where we waited on the side of the road for our next ride. A tiny car that appears to have no room for anything pulls up, and somehow bags, water jugs, and blankets are rearranged for Hannah and I to share the backseat with a 13-year old boy from Bishkek. We stop many times while going up the mountain; once to pick wild apples (they’re tiny, I could fit 3 in my palm), twice for spring water (both to drink and to pour onto the radiator), and once to feed the apples to a pig living in the forest (? I think? I was tired, so my Kyrgyz comprehension was struggling by this point). Finally we make it to our supposed destination, a tiny one-room cabin overlooking a lake that is not Sary Chelek – the driver totally understands that we would be continuing on foot to get to Sary Chelek, but sweetly offered us to come back in case there weren’t beds at the other guesthouse. He pointed us toward a horse path going straight into the woods, and so we set out on the last leg of the journey to Yellow Bucket.

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hiking to the house

These men insisted it would be a 10 or 15-minute walk…. 30 minutes later, and we stumble onto a campground where people are picnicking, taking selfies with a statue of a tiger, and dancing to music coming from their car radio. Hannah and I are tired.hungry.thirsty.smelly (aka not in great shape) and at this point really have no idea if there’s even a place for us to stay here. A couple selling souvenirs in a yurt confirmed the existence of a gostinitsa, a hotel, but that it’s a short walk from the campsite. A pair of young guys, surprised at our insistence on speaking Kyrgyz, pointed us back where we came from. And so we went back through the horse path, kicking brush and swatting flies, until we saw it: The View.

No, not the TV show, but The View, the view of Sary Chelek in all the beautiful photos our friends had taken. Excited, we pushed on and eventually found Nurbu Eje, the woman who runs the hotel who laughed at how tired we were and how happy we were to find her. Granted, the hotel was a cabin with no running water or electricity, but everything about the hotel that night was perfect.

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The View.

the guesthouse

We slept for 12 hours, and in the morning emerged from our room to find Nurbu and her husband eating breakfast on a wooden table outside. We joined them, and were eventually joined by their daughters Albina and Seydana, sitting and chatting for a while before Hannah and I set out for the shortest leg of the journey to Sary Chelek: the stairs leading from the hotel to a short dock on the lake.

There we sat uninterrupted for hours, talking, reading, lying in the sun; a little before lunch, we were joined at first by a small group of people taking pictures and admiring the view, then by progressively bigger groups of people who were more interested in swimming and drinking. We took a break from this to go back and relax in the room; Albina and Seydana took this as a sign of our boredom, despite our protestation that we were just relaxing. What started as their quiet presence in the room grew to asking questions, grew to showing pictures and stories of home, grew to teaching 6-year old Albina to take a picture on my camera.

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With my jigit buddies on the dock

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river

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Photoshoot models

After a quick photoshoot, Hannah and I were summoned to play volleyball with Ulukbek, a young English-speaking guy we met on the dock. Volleyball was cut short when the owner of the ball we were borrowing snatched it up; so instead, we settled on watching Ulukbek’s friends drink vodka and feed a horse watermelon (turns out, horses don’t eat watermelon?). It looked like we were going to be stuck there for a while until Tangul, a wife of Ulukbek’s friend, called out from the backseat of the car, “Are we going yet?” And magically, we were on the road back to Arkyt. Things came full circle when Ulukbek called out “Stop the car!!!” and jumped out into the forest – he crawled into the backseat with a handful of tiny green apples in his hand, one for everyone in the car.

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Thanks Ulukbek and co!

Getting around Kyrgyzstan can at times be frustrating — no regular schedule for public transport, crowded buses, inconsistent placement of the steering wheel — but somehow during this trip the planets aligned and everything fell perfectly into place. There are a lot of kind people who made this work, and I’ve got the contact information of those who work in Sary Chelek that might help you on a future visit, so hit me up if you’re interested in those phone numbers.

JA–>CA: On the Road

This post’s a little late, but only because I was saving a big moment for this week’s theme: On the Road. On Monday I moved from Jalal-Abad alllllll the way to Cholpon-Ata, a resort town on the coast of Issyk-Kul (Hot Lake, if you will). It’s unconventional to move like this, but a lot of factors went into the decision-making process, and I can genuinely say that I am thrilled to be spending the next year of my service here.

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For a journey involving so many pitstops, I anticipated a lot of trouble – fortunately for me, the trip was smooth and I made it to Cholpon-Ata with all my bags and my sanity.

Compared to packing to come to Kyrgyzstan a year ago, I was really lazy this time around… I didn’t start packing until the night before leaving, whereas last April I took several weeks to collect and organize my stuff. Everything got shoved into two MASSIVE bazaar bags and a box that once held a care package. Kamardin, a dear friend and my sitemate’s counterpart, organized a taxi to pick me up at my house and go straight to the Osh airport. The driver was a little chatty for 7:30 in the morning, but he was very sweet and helped me get my bags through the first security check at the airport. The airport only charged me 1200 som ($16) for 60 kilograms (132 pounds) of overweight luggage (learn a lesson, US airlines). I even had a few minutes to watch some Walking Dead before boarding the flight.

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It was one of the fastest flights I’ve been on in Kyrgyzstan: 30 minutes from Osh to Bishkek. A lady tried to take one of my bags as her own, but I convinced her to give it back to me before shoving everything into a taxi downtown. The driver miraculously knew how to get to the Peace Corps office, which is tucked away in a hard-to-get-to corner of the city. I stopped there to pick up some paperwork and thank the staff for their help in the move before setting off on the final leg of the trip.

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Taxis to Cholpon-Ata sit right in front of the avtovokzal (bus station), and it wasn’t hard at all to find a car big enough to hold my stuff. Two taxi drivers shoved all my bags and boxes into the back seat, where I crawled in to prepare for the 4-hour drive. A Kyrgyz woman asked me several times during the trip to tutor her granddaughter; I fell asleep to avoid her questioning. I woke up just as we were leaving Chui Oblast for Issyk-Kul Oblast, where the mountains form these huge walls around the main road. At this point in spring, shepherds are taking their animals to jailoo (summer pasture), so the car I was in had to stop several times for herds of sheep, goats, and cows to cross the road.

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The lake appears suddenly from the mountains, and the view of the bright blue against the white of the mountains and clouds is stunning. I hope I’ll never get tired of that view. Cholpon-Ata’s at about the halfway point between Balykchy and Karakol on the lake’s north shore; it took an hour and a half or so to get there once the lake was visible.

I got dropped on the side of the road between a movie theater and the bus station. It wasn’t long until my host dad drove up, my host sister in the front seat with a cake on her lap and my counterpart and host aunt in the backseat, to bring me home. It’s cooler here than in Jalal-Abad, but I don’t even care because this means I get to watch the trees bloom in bright pink and white twice. There are two chickens in the yard, my 13-year old host sister is thrilled to show me her komuz (stringed instrument), and I can see the lake from my bedroom window.

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In all, the journey took 10 hours – not exactly quick, but it’s nothing compared to what I’ve read other Peace Corps volunteers travel to get around their countries. I’m almost disappointed that the road wasn’t more dramatic; it would have made for a more interesting post. Another time, I guess, will be right for some insights on the madness of Bishkek marshrutkas or overstuffed taxis. For now, I’m just glad this trip went so smoothly, and I’ll take it as a sign of the next year to come.

Home is where the plov is

This week from the Blogging Abroad challenge: HOME. A touchy subject at the moment, but one worth visiting.

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Home is the taxi driver laughing before I can even ask him to take a different route, straight to the university instead of the bazaar.

Home is plov with ayva, chickpeas, raisins, and Uzgenskii rice.

Home is a plane ticket with hand-written seat information, a gate that’s really just a cement room, co-travelers who carry fish in jars with no lids.

Home is mornings, afternoons, and evenings on the tapchan – hours spent laying, drinking tea, talking politics, constellations, gossip, hopes, extended family, news, time, America, everything.

Home is dancing to Kelin Kelgenskii from my laptop speakers in the kitchen, trying to translate line by line the American pop music videos for my brothers.

Home is taxi drivers yelling “Arslanbob Arslanbob Arslanbob” or “Osh Osh Osh,” because how could they know we just returned from those places?

Home is the oomin gesture every time we pass cemeteries or war memorials on the road between Jalal-Abad and Bazar Korgon.

Home is 10 foot gates guarding every house.

Home is asel, ake, tukum instead of bal, baike, jumurtka.

Home is Fornetto (a Korean cafe with heavy Italian branding that serves sushi, warm and made of chicken) and Bek Burger (a 50s-style diner that serves the best chicken tenders in Kyrgyzstan, the brain child of 2 Uzbek men who moved to Chicago in search of the secret recipe of American hamburgers), Pizzeria (though they usually don’t have pizza) and Kebab Sarayi (but their boso lagman is better).

Home is the first time I drove into Jalal-Abad, not realizing it would be so green and not expecting the gates guarding the city to be so big.

Thanks for the ride, J-bad.

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family portrait
bride having a good time
tapchan chilling
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komuz in the kafedra
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Back in the swing of things

After a month of vacation, I’m finally back at work for two weeks in between Peace Corps trainings. The first training was for all the English teachers in my cohort; we had several days with our counterparts and school directors to look back at a semester’s worth of work, challenges, and successes. At the second training, I’ll learn how to write grants and see a project through from start to finish with a local counterpart.

The first month of last semester was empty; it took several months for me to find my groove and develop a schedule. That’s not the case AT ALL this semester, even if I might have wanted a slower reintroduction to work. I’ve been busy writing syllabi for conversation classes with my counterpart. We’ll be teaching a group of 1st-year students; though it’ll be more challenging to teach to their level of English, it seems like they’re more enthusiastic than the 4th-year students. I’m hoping the high attendance levels stick for at least a few weeks.

I’m also jumping right into a busy club schedule. I learned a lot about clubs last semester, and I’ve kept those lessons in mind while planning what I want to teach and how. I tried (and failed) to teach a general “talking club” for university students; high turnover and low participation level from attendees made it the most miserable hour of my week. It was no coincidence that I was sick so often on afternoons when I had that club… So this semester, I’m setting up two talking clubs that will follow broad topics (media, so we can listen to music and read newspapers, and American culture, so I can hit two birds with one stone and show pictures of the U.S. while also practicing English). I’m keeping my club for high school students and a creative writing course.

Last semester, I launched a program at my university to give methodology trainings to 3rd and 4th-year students who are doing student teaching. The group, aptly named the Future English Teachers Club, was a success – 9 students came to all 4 sessions I did, and as a group, we came up with a plan for a new, expanded curriculum. I’m pumped to start this club again, and I’m hoping that more aggressive advertising and word-of-mouth will mean a bigger turnout. I’m also hoping to take some of the sessions I do with my university students to villages around Jalal-Abad City. Even teachers who’ve been working for 5 years can benefit from a reminder about setting good goals for each lesson and for the school-year. I’ve been collecting feedback and advice from volunteers in northern regions who’ve been leading teacher training programs like this — they’ve been a big inspiration for me, and I think I can work with local leaders and organizations to build some helpful infrastructure for young teachers looking for professional development.

When the idea of making a big schedule for teacher trainings around my region first popped into my head, I was nothing but excited to start visiting villages and give trainings. It would be easy for me to hop around villages and give trainings, but the whole point of Peace Corps is to foster sustainable development. Who will lead the trainings and develop training plans after I leave here in 17 months? Now that I’m talking with other volunteers and have made my first visit to a village, I’m realizing that this project is going to be much bigger than I first anticipated – it will require a lot of planning, a lot of networking, and a lot of time.

When I first read my site placement in Jalal-Abad, I was thrilled to go to a region that hasn’t seen volunteers in half a decade. It’s a blank slate down here, and the lack of Peace Corps presence and US Embassy programming means that there’s tons of excitement and need here. A semester into teaching, I see more clearly just how challenging it is to start from scratch – volunteers in northern regions that haven’t had a break in Peace Corps presence since 1993 have inherited an infrastructure of teacher trainings and a familiarity with what a volunteer can do for a community. They have site mates who have been in Kyrgyzstan for 20-some months already, who have hundreds of contacts and know the process of getting projects like this off the ground. I don’t have that advantage, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Onward ho!

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Small Scenes of Central Asia 4

Winter is gray; Mondays are hard. The gloominess of Jalal-Abad on an especially overcast day is relieved by the sight of an older eje pushing a pram with a plaid basket and a mountain of neon pink cotton candy around the city. I saw her four times in one day, in totally different corners of the city.

My bounty from the sevet included four apples, already bruised and a bit mushy. I took them home and chopped them into an apple cake, hoping to impress my host brothers, who had enjoyed banana bread so much. I plugged in our huge easy-bake oven, but it didn’t feel like mustering up heat for my baking project. The next day, I came home to the smell of baked apple goodness. Thinking the oven was magically fixed, I pulled open its door, expecting a cloud of warm air and yummy smell – instead, I hear a beep and my apa pulling the cake out of the microwave. “This will be good with coffee,” she mused, helping herself to a second piece.

The windows of the marshrutka are fogged up, but I can still see a brother and sister fighting on the sidewalk through the mist. The young girl is shoving a chicken (alive) into a paket (plastic bag); the young boy is having a fit behind her. My bus drove away before I saw how they resolved the moment.

I often see young girls with shaved heads playing in the street. For months, I thought parents shaved their daughters’ hair to get rid of lice – only recently, I found out they do this until girls are 4 or 5 to make sure their hair grows back thicker and fuller. A young woman in my literature class has hair so long and so full that she braids it and then sticks the end in her coat pocket to keep it from bothering her.

While walking back from a delicious pizza lunch with other volunteers, we stumbled on a crowd of young people in bright traditional dresses. A few in beautiful white gowns with pointy hats were practicing a dance routine on a wide bridge; they were the first to see us and yell something along the lines of “The Americans are coming!” Who knows what they were doing, all dressed up near Toktogul Park, but they sure looked lovely and were so sweet when we walked over to say hello.

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Exploring Kyrgyzstan: Arslanbob

A handful of volunteers who work all over Kyrgyzstan made the long journey to Jalal-Abad last weekend. In addition to observing classes and catching up after a month at site, we visited the nearby village of Arslanbob – famous for being the world’s largest natural walnut forest – for a weekend of hiking. (Hiking might be a strong word for how we actually spent the weekend – drinking tea on a tapchan, goofing around with our host’s 5-year old son Mahammadi, eating plov in the forest, and playing card games late into the night.)

This wasn’t my first trip to Arslanbob, which translates to “Lion’s Gate” in some mix of Turkic languages (the village is 95% Uzbek, but its official name is the Kyrgyz Arstanbap). The seven volunteers living in southern Jalal-Abad oblast gathered there for a 4th of July celebration this summer. It was much hotter and we had less of a grasp on getting around, but we still managed to survive the 11-mile loop (and 1,500 foot change in elevation) to Kyrgyzstan’s tallest waterfall. I won’t lie and say I smiled the whole way up; it was pretty miserable, but the climb offered some pretty incredible views and would have scared my mom to death.

It’s neat to now be able to compare and contrast Arslanbob’s landscape across seasons — its hard to say which jaunt to the village I liked better, but for now my current infatuation with fall in Kyrgyzstan (and my distaste for hiking at a 90 degree angle for 2 hours) have me leaning toward this past weekend. I hear Arslanbob is one of the best places for skiing in Kyrgyzstan, so be ready for some more pics of this place come winter…

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chong waterfall
at the top
fall arslanbob
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fall river

Fifteen Miles of Jalalabad

I’ve been obsessed with Dennis Keen’s project Walking Almaty for some time now — he’s been walking the streets of Almaty, a major city in southern Kazakhstan that I visited last October, for a few years now. He categorizes bits and pieces of the city’s urban landscape: cemeteries, elevated gas lines, wooden benches. Looking through pages of his blog, I see a lot of visual markers that remind me of Jalal-Abad and many other cities I’ve visited in former Soviet countries.

This week, I started tracking the walk between my house and my university – it’s about 3 miles each way, a little more or less depending on the main road taken. Over time, I hope to post pictures of what I see on these walks, both ordinary sites and wacky things that catch my eye. I’d also like to post maps to show my progress in walking all the streets of Jalal-Abad. Fifteen miles is a meager beginning, but I’m excited to keep walking this city and sharing what I see and learn.

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crane for elections
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honey for sale
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All Sworn in and Ready to Go

On Friday, I officially became a Peace Corps volunteer and moved to Jalal-Abad City, my home for the next two years. The actual moment of swearing in – reciting an oath as told by the U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan – was somewhat anticlimactic, but tiny gushes of excitement and pride and nervousness hit me throughout the day.

After the ceremony, in which my training village danced our famous Kara Jorgo routine, the volunteers heading south hopped on a bus to the airport. After landing in Osh City, our tiny crew of southern volunteers was split again, with those of us heading to Jalal-Abad Oblast climbing into a sweltering marshrutka with our counterparts. The drive was beautiful; I didn’t expect this part of the country to be so green, and with the windows open, the heat wasn’t so bad. We made a pitstop for et naan (literally, meat bread; actually, a round loaf of bread with bits of meat and onions and fat baked inside; truly, delicious) before once again splitting into two smaller groups. Finally, it was just the three of us who will live in Jalal-Abad City left, though we were together for only a minute before our host families picked us up in the city center. And then, after unpacking my bags and sharing a gift of a miniature figurine of the White House with my family, the surrealness of it all hit: this room, house, family will be my home for two years.

I begin work officially on Monday, though it’s not really “work” per se – it’s the process of becoming integrated into my community, meeting those with whom I’ll be working at the university, continuing to practice my language skills, and learning to navigate my way around this place. I am so fortunate to have been placed here, in a city where Peace Corps has not worked for 5 years and at a university where I can teach and lead projects and open clubs.

My mind is spinning with ideas of what I can do here in the next two years – and I can’t wait to make those thoughts and dreams a reality. Let’s go.

K23s

The K-23 cohort.

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With my brand new Peace Corps ID

dancing

Dancing Kara Jorgo

bowing

#internationallove. My training village friends are perfect

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On the road to Jalal-Abad

[Photo credits: Ulukbek Adanaev for Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan, yours truly, Nicole Halbert on one Nicole Eng’s iPhone, and moi]