First off I wanted to let you all know that my first ‘official’ blog entry recently went up at fellowsblog.kiva.org so check it out!
Now here is some of the juicy stuff that doesn’t make the fellows blog. For this entry I am going to put together a little top five list of my experiences so far in Kyrgyzstan:
1. Eating in restaurants by myself – I know, I know, this sounds really sad, and it’s not like I don’t eat a lot of meals with other people. But whenever I eat by myself it is like Russian (no pun intended) roulette. First off my ability to read the cyrillic is basic at best. Next, even if I could read the menu my Russian is even more basic than my cyrillic. Hence my usual method of pin the tail on the menu to order my dish. I suggest you try this sometime, as it makes meals much more exciting.
2. First football (soccer) training – I must admit, I was a little wary at first upon being invited to join the company football team for their biweekly trainings. In patriarchal cultures such as Kyrgyzstan my experience is to stay away from too much competition as it can get to be a country v. country battle I want no part of. I even shirked out of the first training, deciding to work on a project at the office. Yet as you can see from the picture, I had a great time. Even the soviet-era coach, constantly lining us up for drills and tooting away on his whistle, was an experience. I plan on making the trainings a part of my routine while I am here in Bishkek.
3. Bish barmak at a housewarming party – I wish I had a picture of this feast, but I don’t really like busting out my camera at family events I am invited to as a guest. They do housewarmings big here. In my case they cooked an entire sheep, literally cooking an entire sheep in a big pot, bought a few bottles of vodka, and invited the family to come over. Needless to say I ate a few new foods, included the greatly underrated sheep’s brain. Meat is definitely the main course here. I never will consider American food meat-centric after a fellowship in Kyrgyzstan.
4. First shot of vodka truly from Russia – Number 3 also bleeds into number 4. I have yet to make it to a country that has nearly as long toasts after each shot as I have found here. Expect at least 10 minutes a shot, and in my case 10 minutes in a language you know 10 words of.
5. Going to the mountains/Plans for the future – I got a chance to venture a bit into the mountains last weekend. They are very close to the center of Bishkek and their white-tipped peaks have been beckoning me. I can’t wait to get some fantastic hikes/snowboarding trips in while I am here.
Hope you enjoyed today’s top five.