Talk about effing surreal. I’ve been with my family in the village of Kengesh for a little under a week and let me tell you – what a flipping almost-week it’s been.
My family is a little out of the norm in terms of how many people are in it and their ages, but at the moment, I think they’re pretty swanky and they’re all mine. I’ve got my apa and ata (mom and dad), apa’s youngest son and his wife (31 and 22 respectively), and then me. There’s a little part of me that wants to be able to run around the house and outside with a bunch of little brothers and sisters and have them shout (lovingly) at me when I get my Kyrgyz wrong. But at the same time, I’m kind of embracing the alone time that my family is letting me have. Whether that’s because I’m not being outgoing enough and making an ass of myself or they’re realizing that I need space/adjustment and I’ll break out of my shell soon enough. Who knows? They’re also AMAZING at helping me with my homework and shouting the alphabet at me so I can learn it phonetically. Like I said at the beginning of the entry, it’s only been a little under a week, and I’ve got two months with these people, we’ll be besties/family by the end of this, don’t even sweat it. :)
The weather here is bordering on the edge of bipolar. Yesterday it was GORGEOUS. Like, mid- to high-60s, allowing the PCTs and I to run around with a bunch of kids in t-shirts and shorts (so much fun, btw). But today, I woke up to it SNOWING. And as it’s about 5 pm now, we’ve accumulated about an inch, inch and a half. Not only is Kyrgyzstan the size of Nebraska, but it even has the janky weather that can’t make up its mind! Haha. Seriously kicking myself over the lack of woolen socks/wardrobe choices I decided to pack for this adventure. Note to self: need more warm tights, better socks to put over said tights, and scarfs/kikoys.
SO fucking ready for my shower/bath/washcloth+bucket cleaning in a few hours. You have NO IDEA. My hair is so mingin’. The twisty bangs bein’ bobby-pinned back has become a staple for me (along with a few other PCTs) in terms of hairdos. Also include the braids and giant hair poof/bun/pony tail. And of course, who’s the dumbass that forgot to pack real-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner and is therefore rationing off her tiny travel bottle of Herbal Essence? That would be this kid. Well done, Hopkins. You’re off to a great start. Aaaaaaand, just realize that despite the fact that Mom and I bought a swanky quick-dry towel, that it was not packed. Yeah, I really am rockin’ this whole Peace Corps thing. *face to the palm* I don’t so much mind the act of not bathing, but I think that coming from our Western ideology where cleanliness is a top priority to one where it’s a priority, but doesn’t need to happen daily (that probably didn’t come out right) is really making this more difficult. I mean I’m sure I smell a little bit – hello, deodorant! – but having to interact with other Americans and needing (at least for right now until our mentalities switch to more Kyrgyz-dominated) to at least come off as ‘clean’ is wearing thin.
The Kyrgyz language itself is fucking hard. I have no idea what I thought was going to happen when I got here, but this wasn’t it. The whole having to figure out grammar rules along with new alphabets and vocab is daunting. There’s a part of me that appreciates the methodology behind what they’re trying to do, but the other part of me is screaming: ‘Just let me run around like an idiot and make mistakes. I don’t necessarily need to know how to conjugate words to create 3rd person negation depending on whether the word ends in a vowel or consonant to survive in the country!’ I did fine while I was in Jambiani just picking up the language verbally as and when I needed it then getting corrected when I got something wrong. I couldn’t tell you what the ‘right’ way of learning a language is, but the frustration of not picking it up quickly enough makes me think. I wish that I could take a picture of my notes to show you the madness. Haha.
The food here is so different. I can totally see why the PC10 (Peace Corps 10) is going to be such a bitch for girls. The diet consists of a lot of bread and starch, think potatoes, with lots and lots and lots and lots of tea. Also, things here have insane amounts of onion in them. I think this experience is either going to make me fucking love onions or I am going to be THE BEST onion picker-outer ever. No jokes. Combine all of that with the smaller amounts of physical activity the winter/weather allows people and one can understand why volunteers fluctuate with weight. Haha. If anyone knows or has thoughts and ideas about indoor exercise routines or has exercise DVDs they want to ship my direction – DO IT. No, seriously. I don’t even care what kind – ab work, gluts, cardio… I don’t care. SEND IT. Slash hook a sister up via email. Maybe this’ll be the perfect excuse for me to really get my ass in gear in terms of getting fit. *fingers crossed*
Ah, the snow has finally stopped. Thank goodness. Now when I run out to take my banya (shower) I won’t completely freeze my arse off. This will definitely be an interesting one to add to the list. Thanks to my extensive amount of camping adventures (Tif and Mom, you seriously do not know how much I thank you for making me do all that stuff!), the outhouse wasn’t that big of a surprise. My thighs are going to be BOSS by the time 27 months has gone by, just sayin’.
Know I’m thinkin’ of you all. Some days more than others, but I’m getting by. Keep thinking of me. Sending you all my love – and trying to send all of this cold weather your direction so that I can get on with life and stop wearing a zillion layers everywhere – and well wishes.
PS – Skippy: HOW MANY MORE DAYS?! I am SO excited for you it isn’t even funny. I demand a picture ASAP. Got it?
PPS – If anyone has been trying to get a hold of me via phone or text message, the reason I haven’t been responding is because I no longer have a phone. It was nicked while I was using the internet in Bishkek. Literally snatched right out of my bag as my back was turned. T.I.K. ;) So, that’s two BlackBerries down, both of which were stolen in developing (is that the PC term nowadays?) countries. I really should learn, don’tcha think? Next time, next time; it’ll stick next time. Just hold tight until I get my phone here in K-stan and then I’ll do the pass-around-the-number thing. Be patient! Haha.