24 January 2012

Calm it down, kids.

Alright, for those of you who’d like a less cryptic update as to why I’m currently hanging out in Thailand, here’s the entry for you. No one needs to be freaking out about this, I’ll be fine (Mom, Dad, this means you!). I'm not having my hand chopped off nor am I undergoing some radical lobotomy.

I’m here because I have a ganglion cyst on the inside of my right wrist. I’m pretty sure it was caused due to me lugging my giant-ass suitcases worth of goodies (thank you again, Mom) back to my village through Kazakhstan. Lots of lifting and dragging a giant 50+ lb bag with one hand. Obviously, my wrist did NOT like that. So now I have this little bubble of whatever stuck on one of my tendons on my wrist. At first it was causing me loads of pain when I used and flexed it. Because of that I went to Bishkek to have it checked out. They wanted to try compression bandages and just force/squeeze the thing away. Needless to say, ‘cause of my lifestyle back in Talas (thank you, little host siblings!), immobility and something like that just wasn’t going to fly. Continuing on on the goose chase, we tried the med unit at the US Embassy to see if they could just drain the damn thing and be done with it. Because of the location of the cyst, she couldn’t. She said that she could attempt to drain it, but because it is so close to arteries, tendons, veins, etc., she didn’t want to inject the steroids to keep it from getting infected and returning. Fast forward a few hours and here I am, in Bangkok, having shenanigans dealt with. The doc says that the pain is most likely from tendonitis from the heavy lifting and not from the cyst itself, therefore trying to prolong the need for surgery (to Mom’s very large relief). Have an appointment on Saturday to see if the anti-inflammatory drugs are doing their job (as of right now, it still hurts), and then another a week later to see if it’s operation time or just go home with a giant lump on my wrist until the end of service where I’ll more than likely want it cut off anyway. Haha.

Will continue to keep everyone updated on how life goes. As for right now, Thailand is hot, humid, delicious, noisy, sunny, fantastic. Now, if only I had my fucking camera…

12 January 2012


Well gang, I think it’s about that time again. Time for me to update you all on the craziness that has become my life. I bet you’ve missed it, haven’t you? NOT. Haha. Quite a bit has been going on both in the K and other places; lots of stuff that I think I need to get out of my head, so I can work slash talk (to) myself through some things. Bear with me? If you’re not interested, it’s as easy as hitting that little ‘x’ on the corner of your screen or redirecting to whatever stumbleupon site you were just playing on. ;)

Firstly – my trip to Morocco with the madre. Holy balls, was it brilliant. Definitely going back, insha’allah. Started off with an awesome 4 am flight out of Bishkek, after having spent about an hour sleeping on the couch in the PCV resource centre; yeah, I’m classy like that. Don’t you love it when you start international flights (which you KNOW are going to take forever and be physically draining) with no sleep? Fast-forward a flight to Istanbul and then another one to Casablanca to when I’m hurrying through Moroccan customs, knowing my mom is on the other side of it. Cue sappy music: Yes, I did kind of walk quickly into her arms with the biggest ass grin on my face. Don’t judge – I hadn’t seen her in exactly 9 months (and as surprising as it is, that is legit the longest I have gone without seeing her – Mama’s girl, probably, but I wouldn’t have it any other way)! And then everything clicked back into our normal crazy selves, like nothing had happened or we had been apart. So wonderful.

Then we head out into the warm, Moroccan sun to find our guide Youssef. Boys and girls, let me tell you about this guy: if we had had a different guide, I honestly think it would have been a COMPLETELY different trip. He was so perfect for my mom’s and my craziness, ‘cause he was just as crazy. Totally not afraid to joke around, make fun of us, be silly, dance and sing on our long drives around the country. If it gives you any indication of what kind of a guy he was, he is probably one of U2’s biggest fans (although JP might contest that…) and could not help brag and show pictures of when he was hired by them for about a month while they were in Fes recording No Line on the Horizon. He definitely made our introduction and stay in the country more than epic. Too bad he’s not on FB, otherwise I’d give him a shout-out. Haha.

Anyway, we were off to do a little drive through Casablanca before heading to our hotel (hello, Jetlag!). For those of you who haven’t been driving in Morocco – consider yourselves lucky and I highly recommend investing in about six extra seat belts and airbags for your cars if you do so. Terrifying. And that’s me saying it after having lived in Africa and gone through the Talas pass during winter. Balls. Imagining Mom driving there was a point of much laughter during the two weeks. :) Passed by both Hassan II Mosque (GORGEOUS!) and Rick’s Café (God bless smart marketing!) and a really cool open square near our hotel. But instead of really indulging – there was a Pizza Hut delivery place super close to us, but for some STUPID reason, I didn’t go there once during my whole trip; STUPID Sarah – Mom and I opted for dinner at the hotel and then having a mini-Christmas. I gave her some Kyrgyz stuff (calpaks, slippers, PC shirts, etc.) to deliver to the rest of the fam and she brought so stuff that was much needed on my side (more ‘me’ clothes from home, Chex Mix [!], PB M&Ms, nice mittens from Dad, Starbucks VIA – YESSSSSS!). Took a much-needed and enjoyed shower and then passed the balls out.

The next morning we barely made it (we both like to sleep and I didn’t wanna get outta bed) to the guided tour of the Hassan II Mosque. It is situated right on the coast, I think it even hangs over the water?, because of a verse in the Koran about God’s throne being on the water. I think it’s the only working mosque that allows women/people of non-Muslim faith in to see it. Let me tell you: was NOT disappointed. Seriously gorgeous. There are a bazillion pictures of it on FB, so check it out there. The main hall fits about 20,000 men and 5,000 women AND the roof opens during the summer and Ramadan. Epic. Seeing this mosque just reaffirmed for me the beauty and amazingness of Islam and everything related to it. In fact, the whole trip did that as well, which makes it that much damn harder to be here in K-stan for another 18 months. Come on, Hopkins, just power through it. You’ll get there eventually.

After the tour we headed to Rabat for the afternoon to eat lunch, look around the medina, and then head on to Fes, which turned out to be both Mom’s and my favourite city. Don’t know why exactly, but it was gorgeous. Especially at sunset. LOVE. There was a point where we were on a giant hill over looking the city as the sun was going down and one of the two fortresses that had been built ages ago was lit up both by the sun and artificial lights and it looked almost identical to Edinburgh Castle. Needless to say, my heart missed that and everyone in good ol’ Ed right now. Cannot WAIT to get back there. Too bad everyone I know will more than likely be off pursuing their own crazy adventures other places. Unless you’d like to stay and just hang out with me…? Wink wink, nudge nudge. In Fes we toured the old medina (love it); bought some gorgeous Moroccan carpets from a women’s co-op – they rival even Persian ones! – but alas Mom had to take mine back to the States, which means I won’t see it for another year and a half; toured a pottery place where they did literally everything by hand with little to no electronic help; and obviously bought a fez, ‘cause they’re cool.

From Fes we took a day trip to some Roman ruins – Volubilis – and drove through olive country. It was astounding to me how many different types of ecospheres there are in Morocco; literally every kind you could possibly think of. Desert, coastal region, gorgeous vineyard-y, etc. Best of all worlds, I guess. After our adventures there, we made our way down to Erfoud which is where we spent the night before CAMELS. Yes, you read that correctly: Mom and I trekked (with the help of a 4x4) out to the edge of the Sahara Desert and then rode camels to this super cool Berber camp where we spent the freezing cold – although it could probably be argued that my room back in Kyzyl Jyldyz is actually colder than it was there – night in tents before catch the sunrise and heading back to ‘civilization.’ I just have this to say: Camels are one of the weirdest effing animals on the planet. They look SO WEIRD. Their humps and their knobbly knees… Come on, man. Oh, and they’re SUPER tall. When they stand up, with you on ‘em, terrifying. Haha. But at the same time, sunrise and sunset out in the middle (well, not really) of the Sahara Desert is stunning. You’re so far removed from all the bullshit of life and just nothing between you and the sun but sand. If you don’t believe me, look at the pics on FB. Done and done.

Then off to Marrakech. Not really our favourite of the cities, but still pretty cool nonetheless. This is where we did most of our shopping – both for souvenirs and just personal stuff. Let me tell you: Mom is THE WORST haggler on the planet. Haha. She can be guilted into buying almost anything. Even a dozen shishkabob sticks that she will more than likely never use. Or a puzzle box. Silly Mom. ;) Loads of cool stuff, minus the snake charmers (when did that dislike of snakes come up, Sarah?!). And the food… OHMYGOD,YOUGUYSTHEFOOD! Moroccan PCVs do NOT know how good they’ve got it. Fresh fruits and vegetables for cheap, even in the middle of winter. Food with spices and flavor abound. Sheep/lamb cooked properly – not just boiled! Heaven in a little tiny wonderful country.

Which then brings me to a little bit of a ‘deeper’ topic. While in Morocco, and a few weeks before hand, I did a lot of soul-searching about how I feel about K-stan, my experiences, and how I think I will change in the future once I’m finished. Even though I loved every single thing about Morocco – even the hellish traffic – and envied most of the PCVs there (seriously, even their ‘tiny’ villages were epic to proportions!), I don’t think I would trade their experience for mine in a thousand years. I feel as if I am having a ‘real’ PC experience here. I really am so far (well, relatively) removed from everything ‘comfortable’ and ‘known’ to me. I have been forced to really settle into Kyrgyz life and become one of them, as much as possible.

However, with all that being said, I have come to the realization that despite how much of a ‘hippie’ and whatever I’ve considered myself over the past few years, I really like a lot of American and Western things. For example, I miss going to movies, I miss going to the theatre and geeking out, I miss being able to go shopping and or dress up for a night out (with decent drinks), I miss being able to cook a full meal in less than 5 hours. None of this is coming out the way I want it to; I wish I could put it more eloquently… I love what I do here, I really do, but I also miss so many things from America. And I’m having a hard time coming to terms with that; letting the two co-exist with one another. It’s as if I cannot let the materialistic part of me come through and be happy if I’m going to be living and serving in developing countries where people wouldn’t even DREAM of having the things I’m ‘giving up.’ Does any of this make sense? Hopefully, little by little, I’ll be able to get my shit together and realize that the two CAN go side by side and be happy and appreciate for it all.

Kyrgyzstan is treating me well, just know. Having some pretty hard times readjusting to life back in the K after my trip. Luckily I had a few days in the Kek with JDubs and 2/3 of Team Indulgence to help slide me back into things.  But my first night back in my village was just awful: my little sister is apparently pretty sick so she screamed and cried all.night.long. That, in combination with not really knowing what time zone I’m in, have not done wonders for my mental health and sleep cycle. Haha. Also had forgotten that I had loads of work to do to get this Mom’s Club off the ground. It’s been diving in and hitting the ground running. Never been my strong point, but I’m hoping that with the new year I’ll be better at this kind of stuff. Even went so far as to completely clean and reorganize my little tiny room here in the vil. It’s amazing what that, and a bunch of ‘new’ clothes will do to a girl’s confidence, motivation, and well-being. Get ‘er done, Hopkins. :)

Now for the randomness:

-       Kindle broke so it’s back to physical books until Mom can send me the replacement one. Could also be an issue when the power goes out – as it’s not really possible to read in the dark. Luckily I have a few that could keep my attention until then.
-       The new Sherlock – HOLYBALLS. I need more Sherlock/Irene Addler in my life. Sexy, brilliant, smart, wonderful. The second one was just as awesome – we all know I love me some Russell Tovey, especially when he properly acts! – but not as much as the first one. I think it’ll be quite similar to the first season: third and first were better than the second one. Now, if only I could somehow manage enough free interwebz (NOT gonna happen) to see the last one come Sunday. Anyone want to help a sister out? :)
-       Anyone else, other than the Lukester read Passage by Justin Cronin? Finished it while in Morocco and want to talk about it more… Also, who knows definitively when the next one is coming out?
-       Weddings, babies, and engagements: Guys, I know that life goes on, but COME ON! Do so flipping many of you need to have important events happen in your life while I’m gone? Jonesy, Skank, Skippy (yeah, I know this is old)! Alright, it needs to stop. Enough with all that until I can actually get back and participate in these things, will you?!
-       Only 2 more weeks until my birthday. God, I feel old.
-       The Hobbit. YESPLEASE. If the perfection that is the trailer is any indication of the rest of the film(s) – and let’s be honest, it’ll probably be better, ‘cause we haven’t even seen Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug yet! – then I’m ready. Now. Kathryn, Fifi, Fee Cee, please be advised that a trip to your neck of the woods for Christmas next year (or at least on my way home from PC in June-ish of 2013) is in the possible mix of places to find a warm place with an English speaking movie theatre.

I’m sure there are other things I’m missing that I wanted to talk about, but my brain is completely scrambled with every thing possible. So I’ll just end it now.

I will try and be better about updating this thing in this year, but bear with me if I don’t. Sometimes it’s just normal life here, nothing exciting! Missing you all to the moon and back. Hope your New Years is starting out wonderfully and wishing you legitimately all of the best in everything that you all do!

PS – With thanks to Chris Swerczek, the idea has now been planted in my head about possibly writing a book… Thoughts? Topics? Would anyone actually read some piece of shit I write? Haha. Always been a dream of mine, but never thought people would actually want or read it.