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.