Tuesday, July 19, 2011

MedEvac and other updates.

Sorry guys, I’m such a lazy blogger.

I’ve been working at the American Corner (sort of like a resource center funded by the US Embassy, dedicated to promoting American culture and English learning) here in Kant for a while now, and I’m surprisingly busy. I have several clubs that I teach during the week and I help out with projects or events that the A.C. puts on. I have a lot more freedom here than I did at school. Not to mention, the kids that come to the A.C. actually want to learn (major plus).

All in all, it’s been a pretty busy summer thus far.

Back in April I went to Naryn for the first time and loved it! People in Naryn are so nice and helpful. Plus, it’s absolutely beautiful.

However, life in Naryn isn’t without its drawbacks. For example…

I was leaving At-Bashy to go to Kochkor, normally a 3 hour trip by taxi. I got to the bus station by 10am and got in a taxi with 3 bikays (older guys). They were super cool and nice. They asked me a ton of questions about America and were just generally curious about what I was doing here. About an hour into our trip, right outside Naryn City, they discovered that I didn’t know how to milk a cow; obviously, an unforgivable oversight in my upbringing. They immediately pull the car over and pick a cow out of some random field and ‘forced’ me to try and milk it.

Central Asia wins again.

This incident in and of itself would have been amusing enough, but wait, it gets better.

After rather unsuccessfully completing the cow-milking lesson, we got back in the car only to discover that it would not turn on. Figures. After hanging out on the side of the road for a few hours, the bikays pushed the car into Naryn City and found a mechanic. Then, after another couple hours, the car was finally fixed and we went on our merry way. I did make it to Kochkor…at 9:30pm. 11 ½ hours after I started out. After living here for over a year, nothing surprises me anymore.

In more recent news…

As some of you might know, I’ve spent the past year+ being sick on and off. I’ve had strep 4 times and tonsillitis twice. Not to mention ear and sinus infections and food poisoning too many times to count.

So after talking with our PC doctor and a trip to a local hospital to see a specialist (which was sort of like going back in time 50 years – outdated medical equipment, abysmal standards, zero privacy, and doctors with those shiny round things on their heads), I’m being MedEvac’d to Thailand next week to have my tonsils removed.

If everything goes well, I’ll be in Bangkok for 10 days. Medical tourism there is apparently a big deal, so the hospitals and medical staff are top notch.

I’m actually sort of excited. I mean, how many people can say they’ve had surgery in a third-world country? But seriously, I think I’m more excited for a break from Kyrgyzstan than anything else. And hopefully, if all goes well, I can even squeeze in a little sight-seeing.

Updates post-Thailand to come! I promise...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

winter wonderla...blah blah blah

January is such a depressing month.

Just when I think it can’t possibly get any colder, January shows up and laughs in my face. Its actually snowing as I type this. Big, fat, fluffy things falling from the sky…This awful month needs to be over. I’m not used to wearing so many pairs of socks at the same time. I’m beginning to forget what my own feet look like. Weird, right? I miss flip flops…

Speaking of feet…my trusty black YakTraks broke (well...one of them broke and I somehow lost one on a marshuka…I’m still unclear as to how that actually happened). Peace Corps gave me another pair but this time, they’re florescent orange (think traffic cone). Fantastic. Unfortunately, they don’t glow in the dark but they are, however, light reflective. People can see me coming a mile away. All I’m missing is a matching helmet and wrist guards. Somehow I don’t think this is increasing my cool factor. I’m pretty sure I heard a Kyrgyz kid yell ‘look at the crazy lady,’ in the bazaar the other day.

In addition, my iPod tragically died. Which makes marshuka rides in general more painful. I’m having my family put a new one in the next package they send, which will be strategically hidden in a tampon box. Hopefully it makes it.

In other news… my English classes at school don’t actually start until the end of this month but I’ve been keeping busy with clubs and such. I just started teaching a conversational class at a school in Bishkek called Linga. It’s a lot of fun since the kids are really motivated to learn.

Those are pretty much the only updates for now. As you can tell I lead a very…thrilling life here in Kyrgyzstan. Yesterday I even got crazy with my ramon dinner. I added carrots AND a fried egg. I’m like the poster child for livin’ life on the edge.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

merry christmas

Snow, snow, snow! And sooo much of it! I was starting to think that we weren’t going to have a white Christmas here in Chui because all last week was relatively warm, but I woke up this morning to a winter wonderland! I hate to say it, but it’s actually very beautiful. Freezing ass cold, but beautiful nonetheless.

School is out for the holidays as of this week. I’m slightly disappointed because I was just starting to get into the swing of things at my new school. I’m already excited for the clubs and projects I’m planning on starting in January so the break will give me time to prepare. I’m starting a film club with my students and it’s all they can talk about.

Esther and I had planned “E&A’s Most Spectacular 8 Days of Christmas” to help get us into the holiday spirit, but due to zero power/lights/water/etc…we were forced to cut it down to 4 days of holiday cheer. We just got power back today so we’re super pumped! We’ve been listening to non-stop Christmas music all day. We have cookies in the oven and we’re sipping hot chocolate. Tomorrow’s agenda includes making snowmen and quiche.

In other news…I started knitting. I know I know. Something I’m pretty sure at some point in my life I swore never to do. Shit happens. Anyways. I haven’t actually made anything yet…mostly because I’m teaching myself and thus far I suck at knitting. But I’m not a quitter! And I already swore to myself that by the end of my service I’ll have at least made a scarf or something….and I have to do something with the mass amounts of yarn I bought.

In case you were wondering about what it’s like to be living in Central Asia this time of year…well…it’s pretty uneventful. Mostly everything is just more difficult. Getting around is much more of a headache now then it has been. The roads are icy and people still drive like lunatics. Daylight hours are from 8:30am-5pm…which makes it impossible to get anything done. And you pretty much just stay inside all the time, huddled next to your Peace Corps issued space heater, wearing long underwear and dreaming about fresh produce.

Next week Esther and I are going to Karakol for New Years, and I can’t wait! It will be good to get out of Chui for a bit. I’ll try to write on here again soon, but I tend to suffer from chronic memory loss when it comes to this blog.

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you all have a great holiday!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Homeless in Bishkek

So wow. It’s been nearly 2 months since I’ve written on here. Honestly, there just hasn’t been that much to write about. But alas – here we are.

Time for updates!

School started back in September. And wow… it’s never boring. Within my first week of school I broke up a fight in one of my 8th form classes where one male student was trying to strangle the other. Like I said, never boring. Teaching in Kyrgyzstan is nothing like teaching in America. There is no disciple for starters, and you practically have to bribe the kids to do their homework, and even that rarely works. Class-time isn’t sacred, and is often interrupted by various co-workers and bosses so that you can go take a shot in the director’s office. What can I say; we’re just keeping it classy in KG.

After about 5 months at my site (7 in country…feels like 7 years…) due to some rather serious "complications”, I had to move and am currently in the process of getting a site change. So currently I’m living out of a hotel in Bishkek and all of my things are in various boxes and bags at the Peace Corps office. It’s been a pretty stressful and frustrating situation but things are starting to look up. We’ve identified a new site in Kant, a mere 30-45mins away from Bishkek, and an actual town to boot. The school I would be working at is amazing. We're just waiting on the school director to find some housing options and then I’ll be set. I'm hoping to be all moved in to a new apartment by the end of this week but who knows...nothing in this country moves fast.

In other news, we successfully got through the elections this month (hurray!) and we even got to spend some quality time with our fellow PCVs up in the mountains outside Bishkek. .

I’m trying to think back on what else has happened in the past 2 months but everything just kind of blends together in a big, black abyss.

More updates to come as soon as I get settled at my new site (which will hopefully be before Jesus comes back).

Monday, August 23, 2010


I just returned from Lake Issyk-Kul (a.k.a. one of the most beautiful places on earth) where all volunteers from my class (holla 18s!) were gathered for In-Service Training. We stayed at a super nice hotel (get this…REAL showers! I know…luxurious) and just relaxed all week…

Just kidding about the relaxing part. Our week was chalk full of sessions and 6 hours of intense language every day. Still, it was great to see everyone and get out of Chui for a while. Plus I was able to load up my hard drive. I’m planning a James Bond marathon this winter. I want to conduct an in-depth analysis comparing Timothy Dalton and Sean Connery.

Before IST I worked at a summer camp with some other PCVs. This camp focused on life skills training for older students; how to make a resume, interviewing skills, study abroad opportunities, university life, etc. It was a big hit! молодец Kyle Kastler!

Now things are kicking into gear. School starts September 1st and this week I’m busy with lesson planning with my counterpart, Gula, and plotting out secondary projects.

I also just found out that I can’t move into my apartment until October 1st. Apparently my future landlady’s distant relatives will be staying there for the next month. Not gonna lie, I’m really disappointed. I’m more than ready for my own space. Anyways – nothing I can do about that.

There are some exciting things happening over here. I might be able to teach a class or two at a university in Bishkek in the spring, we have this AMAZING photography/film project underway headed by Gina, and I’m already starting to think about plans for after the Peace Corps (all I’m going to say about that is – Korea? Yes please!).

That's about it for now kids - much love!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cancer has a cure.

There are some things that Kyrgyz people will tell you, repeatedly, that eventually you simply ignore. Interesting enough, most of them involve sickness and death.

For example, drinking cold beverages will surely cause you to catch a horrible sickness leading to your death. God forbid you use ice cubes.

Wearing flip-flops outside in the summertime when it is disgustingly hot will also lead to horrible sickness and death.

Not eating, despite whatever stomach aliments you may or may not have (including but not limited to vomiting, nausea, etc), naturally leads to sickness and death.

Sitting on any surface not covered by some sort of cushion or paper or blanket will lead to immediate sickness of the entire body. This includes sitting on an uncovered couch or bench.

If, however, you do contract some sort of illness there are a number of things that will be “suggested” to you that will surely cure anything from the common cold to cancer.

Number One: Vodka. Nothing that a few shots can’t take care of. [As I’ve been instructed, beer will not work, but vodka is a sure bet.]

Number Two: Chai. Of course, this seems perfectly reasonable, right? I’m glad you agree! Because you’re looking at, on average, about 7 cups a day. Opps, that’s when there’s nothing wrong with you. Feeling under the weather? Bump that up to 4 cups…per hour. [Chai cannot be replaced with any other beverage, including water.]

Number Three: Committing oneself to house arrest. Fresh air will surely cause you to take a turn for the worse. Why risk it? It will do nothing for you or your state of mind.

This leads me to my new personal favorite. A true gem.

Number Four: Garlic. Whole garlic. By itself.

I know what you’re thinking. “Anna, which one of these methods have you personally tested?

In answer to your question… all of them. Yes friends, all of them.

The latest method, number four, is one that I’ve just recently had the privilege of discovering. My dear, sweet host mother took it upon herself to personally force-feed me garlic [2-3 cloves] to cure my sinus infection. At 8:00 in the morning.

In case you’re curious, I feel better already!

[This of course has nothing to do with the antibiotics I’ve been on for the past 4 days nor the decongestant.]

Garlic, the miracle drug. Cancer cells look out.

[Side note: To help with the aftertaste that will surely follow you for the rest of the day, I recommend alternating between brushing your teeth rigorously and rinsing with mouthwash in 20 minute intervals. Do this until you no longer smell the garlic when you speak.]

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ode to Bishkek

Dear August,

I must say, I’ll really glad to see you. Although, I have no idea how you managed to sneak up on me like that! Seriously though, time is flying by over here.

Its been pretty hot in Chui the past week or so. Made slightly worse by a nasty sinus infection. It almost makes me wish for winter…almost. Despite the heat, I’m developing a heartfelt affection for Bishkek. I’m an hour away from the city but the drive is worth it. During my visits I usually always “discover” some restaurant or shop or part of town that I want to explore. I was introduced to my new favorite place…a legitimate coffee shop. Name? Coffee. Not very creative is it? Nonetheless, they actually serve cappuccinos. Amazing. My only complaint is that the prices are more on the American side, whereas my pay definitely remains in the Kyrgyz neighborhood. Oh well. I actually wrote a weekly “coffee treat” into my budget so I wouldn’t feel guilty.

As amazing and wonderful and magical as Bishkek is (or can be), I do have a few complainants.

First - why are there two voksals (bus stations)? And why are there 50 different names for them? Old, new, east, west…Jesus! Getting around is confusing enough, give me a break.

Second - the undergrounds. At some of the busier streets in Bishkek you have to cross the street through the underground. Tunnels run underneath the street and you go down the stairs and come up on the other side of the road. The underground is also like a mini bazaar. Vendors have set up shop and you can buy things like cheap jewelry or even underwear. The undergrounds are all quite strange to be honest. Not to mention pretty sketchy. Especially when it’s dark. When I’m in the city at night, I walk several blocks out of my way just to avoid using them.

I was almost mugged in the underground. Which might help explain my aversion to them. A few days ago I was in Bishkek for something or another. I was using the underground to cross the street. I was almost to the stairs when I felt a tug on my bag, which was hanging from my shoulder. I look over and what do you know – there is a grown man with his hand inside my purse! Thankfully, he ran off immediately. He didn’t manage to take anything, but he was probably only a few seconds away from having my phone and wallet. Moral of the story: avoid the undergrounds…and pay more attention.

Third – traffic. If I had 5com for every time some rude or crazy driver almost hit me, sometimes on purpose, I could afford to up my coffee treat to 3 times a week. On second thought…

Four – babies. This might seem like an odd complaint. Actually, it’s not really a complaint, more like a weird observation. There are a lot of babies here. I mean, babies are literally everywhere. It’s starting to freak me out just a little. I don’t hate babies; they just scare me. These mini humans don’t talk. They just cry. A lot. How do you know what they want? What are you suppose to do with them? You try being in a city where there is literally 10 babies at any given time within a 15-foot radius of you and tell me you wouldn’t have nightmares too.

Despite the insane drivers and confusing transportation system, Bishkek is a really neat city and the people are for the most part, extremely helpful and friendly. I’m still working on not getting lost but I feel like I’m almost to that point. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

…Not the underground tunnels…I won’t be using those anymore. A different tunnel…one preferably above ground.