Note: this post was written Sunday April 18, 2010. I’ve changed the background color in an attempt to make this easier to read. Please feel free to leave a comment/make suggestions to my mom if it’s still difficult to see.
I’m back in my town after an unexpected hiatus due to the political situation here, which I’m sure most of you have heard about by this time. In fact, you all probably know more about what’s going on than I do, given that my main media source right now is Russian television and I don’t speak Russian. If you aren’t aware, a quick Google search of Kyrgyzstan can catch you up to speed since I’m not going to address the issue here. Ask me about the experience in person sometime, though. I guarantee the stories will not disappoint.
It’s good to be back! My apa (host mother) was almost in tears she was so happy to see me when I came home, and other volunteers said their family members had similar reactions. We’ve only been here for a few weeks and already our hosts are treating us like family. It’s a good feeling. Plus, I had really been missing my apa’s fresh baked nan (bread) as well as my chai eech time. Chai eech, or “to drink tea,” is an integral part of Kyrgyz culture, it’s served with every meal and often between meals, as well. I have about 12 chai eeches a day (and yes, I like use the whole phrase as a single noun or verb as I see fit) and this is on the low side. A few volunteers in my language group are having a competition to see who can drink the most tea over the course of our training period. They average about 25 chai eeches a day. I thought about joining the fun, but I’m trying to watch my caffeine intake.
I’ve been set back on my Kyrgyz a bit, unfortunately. A few days away from language lessons has wreaked havoc on my limited vocab, so I’m trying to do some catch-up now. On the bright side, I’ve been making earnest attempts at having real conversations with my host sister when she sits with me after dinner to chai eech. Yesterday we talked about sports (she likes volleyball) and today we talked about traveling (she’s been to Kazakhstan). She usually corrects my verb conjugations but understands what I’m asking, so I’m counting this as a huge step forward in my communicative abilities.
All in all, these past few days have been great. We trainees are spread out in different towns and divided into language groups (4-5 people to a group), but once a week we have a “Hub Day” where we all get together for culture, health, safety and security, and training sessions. This week we received our long-awaited cell phones. It took me a considerable amount of effort to set mine up, especially since the instructions were in Russian, but I think I’m finally connected to the outside world. And I have texting! Also, I’ve recently decided to run at the stadium on the days when I know I’ll be able to take a shower. This isn’t going to be as often as I would like (regarding both exercising and showering), but I’m excited about the prospect of the occasional jog. One slight flaw in my plan, however, is improperly gauging when I’ll be able to bathe. Example: today I went running believing a shower to be in order in the afternoon. When I came home my apa was doing laundry. Granted, I was extremely grateful to wash my clothes, but now I feel guilty about asking to use even more water to take a shower. Maybe I’ll muster the courage in a couple hours. At this point, though, my family might be relieved I’m asking. Also, a tangental note about the laundry: I hung it up outside around noon and it has proceeded to rain for the rest of the day. I’m not entirely sure what to do about this. I suggested to my sister that I hang my things in my room, but she didn’t seem to think this was a good idea. I’ll just wait, I suppose.
It’s officially кечңԁе - in the evening - now and I need to get some studying in so I can start my week off right. Thanks to all who’ve emailed/skyped/gchatted/facebooked me so far. I love hearing from you! Oh, and a few people have asked where they can send letters and packages. The address in my very first post is where you can send things if you feel so inclined. A cautionary note, though: don’t send money or anything overly valuable since things tend to get rifled through over here. It also takes about 2-3 weeks for things to arrive. Here’s a thank you in advance to anyone who’s sent something already! I have a few items that will be mailed as soon as I can find a post office that holds regular office hours and offers international shipping.