Hey Mom and Dad, remember when you were in Kyrgyzstan!? 

Wow this is a really late post, but here are some pictures from the August 31st Independence Day Celebration. 

Day at the Orphanage

We played games, painted pictures, threw a few temper-tantrums over who had the red marker, but overall had a good time. 

Unfortunately, my camera died about 5 minutes in, so this is all you get.

More picnic day pictures.

Exploring the mountains during our picnic.

Picnic in the mountains with my counterpart and some people from her work.

Summer Lovin’: Fruits and Vegetables Galore! 

(all purchased for about $3)

Visiting Osh City

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently went to the south of Kyrgyzstan to help out at a youth camp. Up until a few months ago, Peace Corps volunteers have not been allowed to visit or work in the south due to safety concerns lingering from the 2010 revolutions. So, this trip was really exciting, as many volunteers who had already visited had been painting a picture for me of this unknown part of the country.

They spoke of a city with great plov (a popular rice dish similar to rice pilaf) and bright, eccentric Uzbek influences. Perhaps I didn’t have a chance to leave the campsite enough and see the ‘real’ city because, in my opinion, it was very reminiscent of northern Kyrgyzstan. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful and scenic, but so is the rest of Kyrgyzstan. It almost seemed as if I had already seen the city before. The parks, stores, mountains, and even people were oh so familiar. However, I will admit, the plov was indeed better, but that was maybe the biggest difference I found. 

The camp director was nice enough to give us an afternoon away from the rowdy camp kids and loaned us her driver to take us around the city. He ended up taking us to the Osh City Museum. 

It was built into the side of a mountain leaving you to wander among its rocky, cavernous walls and dimly lit displays. And the displays, oh the displays! They were collections of pottery shards and childrens’ clothing that looked only old enough to have been bought when the museum opened maybe 60 years ago. Seriously, it was hard not to giggle at the labeling of “Ancient Copper Pot”, when I’m pretty sure I saw said ‘ancient pot’ in my host mom’s kitchen last year. So, in addition to that collection they also enjoyed displaying a multitude of taxidermy animals. You know - vultures, rats, badgers, turtles, pigeons, sea gulls, your standard museum animals.

This guy guarded the stairs. It was not creepy at all. 

So then we followed a trail of stairs outside along the mountainside where we took in some views of the city.

This was the largest city mosque and its accompanying cemetery.

And we even found the way to some Ancient Cult Places….

Unfortunately, as I went to follow the sign, some concerned, local museum goers ooyated (shamed) me for my skirt being too short and told me I couldn’t explore in that direction (the skirt was touching my knees by the way). Oh well, I guess I will never know what mysteries awaited me at the Ancient Cult Places. If they were anything like the museum’s ‘Ancient Copper Pots’, then I think I can live with myself for missing it.

The 100+ stairs we climbed ended at this fort-looking structure and led us to another 100+ stairs to climb down towards the exit.

I got a great workout that, unfortunately, was cancelled out by the platter of delicious plov we went to eat afterwards.

All in all, Osh left me with some gorgeous mountain photos and the sick feeling of over-eating. It was like I never left the North.

 

 

ACCESS Camp

This past week I went to the south of the country with two other volunteers to help out at a youth camp. The camp was a celebration of the graduation of kids aged 14-16 from their 2-year English learning program. 

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We worked with some pretty awesome FLEX kids who made yelling at 100 kids more bearable. 

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Things that happened:

  • The kids accidently set two separate fires on the grounds
  • I realized 24 is much, much older than 16 and thus felt VERY awkward at disco night
  • My team’s motto started to sound like a Kanye song by the end of the camp. ‘The beach is hot, but our team is hotter’… now again with lazy tongues and poor English skills, 'Za b***ch is hot, no our team hotter.' Cute kids, really.
  • The camp was held at an old persons’ home (perfect for camps!) and the elderly people started to share their annoyance with the youth in the form of throwing sticks at everyone. 
  • Boys played Spider Man and jumped from various balconies to get to the girls’ rooms
  • One boy fell into an old zoo cage (oh yeah, this place was also an old Soviet zoo)
  • All us volunteers had the usual star treatment at the end of the camp where all the kids want pictures with us. And then us with their friend. And then us with their other friend. And then one with just them. And then one with a girl they saw once in the bathroom… That happened for like an hour.
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But didn’t we all just have a blast?! We did right?

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If anything, that guy had fun!

We just finished celebrating some great things here in the K - Matthew’s 27th Birthday and our 3-year wedding anniversary! For Matt’s birthday I took him out for breakfast and managed to embarrass him with a candle served in his pancakes. For our anniversary we are starting a picture tradition (unfortunately a year late, but whatever). Every year we take a picture of ourselves holding a picture from last year’s anniversary. 20 years from now it will be a picture in a picture in a picture, and so on. Cheese-fiesta right? Well, we like it.